I graduated from college in 1988 from the State University of New York @ Fredonia. Despite a successful four years and a pretty fair grade point average, a freshman biology class I’d put off until my last semester had me waiting until two hours before the ceremony to find out if I’d actually earned my diploma. With fingers crossed I called my professor who informed me I made the grade. He sounded a tad less thrilled than I did and before I could thank him, he’d hung up. Loved that guy.
With diploma in hand, my parents and I made our way to my eldest sister’s home where a slew of aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, sisters, nephews, niece (only had one at the time) and a few strangers who just “showed up” all took part in quite the festive celebration.
It was your typical graduation party and as hoped, I received my share of gifts that afternoon. But there was one in particular that stood out from the rest. One that would find its way through every move I made, every part of the country I lived in and on every wall that saw me faced with challenges. I’m actually looking at it as I write this blog entry.
I found it while rummaging through some boxes I’d packed after leaving my last “office gig.” It was given to me by my Aunt Sophie an amazing woman. A Franciscan nun who spent her life opening up schools and educating the masses, Aunt Sophie was indeed a saint. Mind you, I’m not an overtly religious man, but five minutes with her and you recognized that you were one “linked in” connection from heaven. There was a sense of calm about her right up until the day she passed earlier this past year. How odd I should find this treasure at a time when I find myself in transition, often questioning myself and my ability to overcome adversity.
As I unwrapped her gift that day, I found these words in front of me, inscribed on a simple plaque:
If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t
Success begins with your own will
It’s all in your state of mind
Life’s battles are not always won
By those who are stronger or faster;
Sooner or later the person who wins
Is the person who thinks … he can
God Bless you Aunt Sophie and thank you. Good to know there are angels watching out for us, I’ll pass this along to some friends of mine who could use some words of encouragement.