I was honored to have the privilege of being my brother Dave’s best man last month. Below is transcript-turned-blog post of the toast.
To understand my brother Dave, or big Davey as I like to call him, or David James, as most of my family calls him — to understand David James, I’d like to tell you something about our grandfathers, David and James. Beyond his namesake, Dave derived a great deal from his grandfathers.
Last year Mary and I were at Papa’s house (James Griffin). He was tinkering with his grandfather clock, trying to get it started again. Mary asked, “How do you know how to do that?”
Papa said, and I’ll never forget this, “If a man built it, I can fix it.”
It’s an incredible, confident motto he lives by. He’s built an entire business around it, fixing airplane parts.
My other grandfather, Gramps, (David Munsell) also has a mantra he lives by. On a number of occasions he’s told me, “You’re a Munsell, you can do anything.” It’s a phrase that was actually passed down by his father, our great grandfather (GG, as we knew him).
At the confluence of the two ideologies of these two great men is Dave. No one in my immediate family embodies the confidence, self-assurance, and know-how as much as Dave does.
And he’ll be the first one to tell you that. He’ll say, “I’m awesome!’
And you know what? He is.
So, I’d like to share a few highlights and milestones from his life that he’s been able to obtain with that confidence and know-how he acquired from his grandfathers.
Dave and I started playing lacrosse in early middle school. During his first year, Dave decided he wanted to play defense.
The role of the defender is to push guys around and protect the goalie from being shot on. It’s a position for the biggest, strongest players on the field. The Goliaths, if you will. Not the Davids.
But Dave defied the odds. He used his quick hands, agility, and what strength he had to keep attackers at bay. He ended up being a starting varsity defender. He’s a Munsell, he can do anything.Exhibit B
One of the few things Dave is actually modest in about life is his artistic talent. But I can assure you, he’s an artist.
Dave was actually invited to the Pentagon to see one of his pieces of modern art hung one one of its five long walls. While there, he shook the hand of the President of the United States. True story.
His work of art was a landscape of Washington D.C., with the Washington Monument standing prominently in the center. Overhead, an F-16 flys….chasing an alien space ship set on destroying the capital.
It was an awesome drawing — especially for 12 year old Dave.
Dave went on to graduate from Syracuse and joined the Peace Corps, where he volunteered in Mali. While there, he learned a language that not a single one of Dave’s friends or family would have heard of, had he not gone to Mali. He became fluent in Fulfude.
For my best man’s speech, I reached out to one of his Peace Corps friends to help translate a wedding blessing. It goes like this:
Ada nyama nyebbe
Jackie ana nyama nyebbe
But perhaps something was lost in translation, as Dave was in hysterics when he heard it at the ceremony. Or maybe it was that instead of providing a blessing I had the entire wedding reception repeat the classic Malian fart joke.
Perhaps Dave’s biggest accomplishment to date is actually what brought everyone together on June 21st, 2014.
Four years ago, almost to this date, Dave told me about Jackie, “I’m going to marry this girl.” They had only been seeing each other a couple months at this point. I don’t think Jackie even liked Dave at the time.
At the time they were coworkers with shared desk space in Liberty Mutual’s Human Resources department. And if you know anything about HR — you would know that this is where they make rules against interoffice romance. But, Dave defied the odds and courted Jackie anyways.
Dave used his awesomeness to marry the woman of his dreams, and my new sister-in-law, Jackie.
Jackie actually shares a lot of the same characteristics as Dave. She too is ambitious, driven, and confident.
For instance, earlier this year Dave, Jackie, Kyle and I met up for some post-work beverages at the Sail Loft. Kyle and I were telling them about our recent trip to the Grand Canyon. We had hiked it from top to bottom to top in a single day. That’s 16 miles over 10,000 vertical feet. We hiked over 10 hours in arid Arizona.
Without skipping a beat, the always confident Jackie declared, “I could do that. Dave, when are we going to hike the Grand Canyon?”
To which Dave replied, “Jackie, you don’t even like hiking.”
“I know!” she exclaimed. “But, I could do it.”
And I’m sure she could! She probably will. And that’s Jackie. She’s awesome too.
Dave & Jackie (or Jave)
And as incredible as they both are individually, together they are even better. In emails written one another, read aloud at the wedding, they both wrote almost word for word, “you make me a better person.”
They push one another to be better people. To be happier, healthier, and more fun. And, the more time they spend together, the closer they become.
And they spend a lot of time together.
I imagine most mornings they wake up, ensure their matching Fitbits are still functioning, then head to the basement where they keep their two treadmills, side by side. They run for 30 minutes, and give each other high fives at the end, “We’re awesome!”. After their team workout, they commute to Liberty Mutual together where they both still work in HR, though in different departments nowadays. At 5:00, they hop back on the southbound MBTA train and head home for a delicious gluten-free dinner. Then on Tuesday, they wake up and do it all again.
I’m excited to spend the coming decades with them together, as a couple, and watch them grow even closer.
So, to the awesome Dave and Jackie Munsell, together you can do anything.