Mac’68 40-Year Reunion Valedictory Address
Our fortieth milestone: It is so hard to realize that that many years have passed since we graduated, but would you believe that it has taken that many years for us to persuade Joyce (Saunders) to return to see us? We are truly pleased that you are here, Joyce!

In ‘68, in our naiveté, we thought we were educated and ready to go out
and conquer the world. We had absolutely no idea what lay ahead.
However some of our predictions did materialize: -Which one of us ever doubted that Harold (Cook) would be an outstanding leader who would make it to the top of his career? -Is anyone here surprised that Sheila (Greenspoon) has aged so gracefully and is still as beautiful as she ever was? -Did you not foresee that Cass (Stephen Casselman) would have a loveable paunch and would still be charmingly outspoken? -How about James (Chen)? We knew that he would still be wealthy and would delight us with his distinctive signature laugh! -We were absolutely certain that Jen (Avey) would still have her Trinidadian accent and would be as svelte as the day she left Mac. What we didn’t predict was that Hugh (Avey) would also have the accent and would have learnt to “chip” along to Trinidadian steel pan just like a native Trini. -Are you surprised that Celia (Topping) and Margery (MacGregor) are still taking care of the details and the nitty gritty to keep us all in the right place at the right time? -Oh, by the way Kenny (Fisher), how are you coming along with Nancy’s “honey do” list? So little has changed and yet so much is different. Some of us carry a few extra pounds; we see the odd wrinkle that shows up only in close up pictures, of course; our hair has thinned a little or in some cases has disappeared almost completely – but that’s in vogue, isn’t it? Some of us have turned a little gray and for others, only our hairdressers know for sure. Our conversations when we get together have evolved as well – when we meet we compare our HDL and LDL counts, the latest PSA results, and who has had a colonoscopy recently, who has high blood pressure and high cholesterol and what dosage of Lipitor we take daily. I am almost certain that when the men get together they discuss ED, but they would never admit to that! Did you ever believe that we would get to that? But hold on, maybe I exaggerate, because I have noted as I am sure you have too, that after a glass or two of wine or a few beers, or even a Manhattan or two, (right, Rod (MacInnes)?) we do revert and can still have a hearty chuckle about switching specimens in Micro lab, or stealing the silverware, or copying someone else’s lab results, cribbing notes when we slept in on Saturday morning – suddenly it is the good ole days again and we are young. Indeed a very special attribute of our class is the many lifelong friendships that many of us have had with other members of the class. We can see this with the annual fishing trip of the guys to Newfoundland, and I am sure that each of you can give your own example. For Wayne and myself, it was certainly brought home to us when we moved to Kingston eight years ago, and Barb and Harry (Lawson) welcomed us into their home and family without any hesitation. It was as though no time at all had elapsed. Well as I look around tonight I feel confident that all of us in our own way have been successful. Most have excelled in our careers or at the very least made a comfortable living in our areas of expertise; others have switched gears, expanding into other fields and broadened our horizons. Some of us have chosen marriage, others the single life. There have been children, and eventually, children’s marriages – just recently I experienced a feeling of déjà vu when I attended the wedding of Diane’s and Rod’s (MacInnes) daughter and it brought back strong memories of Wayne and myself being at their wedding and it truly didn’t seem like that long ago. All of our lives took on special meaning with the arrival of grandchildren and somehow life changed. Christine (Casselman), I know you can vouch for that. There have been sad moments in our lives as well – the loss of very dear friends and relatives; many of us have lost parents or have dealt, or are dealing, with the very overwhelming task of caring for them as they become older and more infirm; even more devastating is the reality that some have had to cope with the loss of a spouse, a real life-changing experience. Yet we have survived – and yes, we have been successful, but my instincts tell me that today we would describe success in a much different way than we did 40 years ago. Now most of us or perhaps many of us have retired or are on the verge of retiring. We all enthuse about how wonderful retirement is, yet if we were absolutely honest with ourselves, we would admit that for the first couple of years we felt a little lost. Wayne’s (Hanson) theory regarding retirement has a lot of truth, and for a change I agree with him. He maintains that “retirement is the greatest equalizer” in life. Let me explain – you see, when we first retire, we lose our sense of identity, our power base, our little niche in life. It is like starting all over again, getting re-oriented, learning to spend 24/7 with our spouses. When we meet someone new, we feel compelled to explain what we did before – almost trying to justify our existence. Gradually that passes and, according to Wayne, we eventually learn to deal with just being “ourselves” and before we know it, our only claim to fame is that we are members of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons), AARP for our American colleagues, eagerly awaiting the next monthly magazine so we can learn a little more about living on a fixed income, how to prevent osteoporosis, what are the new discoveries about foods that keep us regular, keep our hearts beating and, of course, how to beat the taxman and set up our estates so our children could inherit a little if they are lucky and we haven’t done a good enough job of spending it all on ourselves! “They,” that nebulous “they,” tell us that the 60s are the new 40s. Well that’s great news, isn’t it? I’ll have to check that out with Terry (Swaine) to see if that is really the case. If it is true, then time is on our side and added to that is the accumulation of knowledge, skills and expertise in this room tonight – knowledge of numerous branches of medicine and appropriate treatments, knowledge of foods, food crops and nutrition, knowledge of pests and pest control, knowledge of research and our environment, finances, an understanding of how children learn and of human behaviour in general. I am barely touching the surface of the potential that is right here. Note that I used the word potential, given that we all deal with senior moments and the reality of how much we have all forgotten already. Actually Kenny (Fisher) I challenge you to offer a door prize to any person here that could show the stages of metabolism of a complex carbohydrate to a simple sugar and water. Well, we all passed organic chemistry in second year, didn’t we? Seriously, we have so much to offer now and we now have the time in which to do it. I put out the challenge tonight to each one of us to continue to dream, to embrace life, to take on a challenge or project that we have always fantasized about and to continue to try to make a difference. As we take time to smell the roses, to watch the orioles at the feeder, to romp with our grandchildren but deliver them back to their parents at night, let us also pursue some small task that we feel passionate about, and in so doing, we will perhaps make a difference for some child, family, community, or even our environment. At the risk of sounding like a “Pollyanna,” I believe that we have a responsibility to leave a legacy which will make the world just a little better for our grandchildren. But hold on, I must caution you that we need to get to it without too much delay because we know first-hand how quickly the 40s become the 60s. Now I know that some enterprising person will rush out to Google this speech to see if I plagiarized some other class speech from Australia. If you find it, please blame my speechwriter, not me! It has been a delight to see everyone again. Continue to have a wonderful reunion weekend. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity tonight. Yvonne Hanson


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