© Guardian photo by Jim Day
Tim Goddard poses with an original art piece from legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. The piece, which is on display at Ellen's Creek Gallery and Framing in Charlottetown, will be part of a silent auction at the 5th annual fundraiser for the Nichola Goddard Foundation.
For Tim Goddard, the connection runs deep.
He has long been, in his words, a Leonard Cohen fanatic.
The legendary singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and artist holds a strong presence in the life of Goddard, who first heard Cohen perform in 1970.
"Over the years, he has always been musically a big part of my life,'' says Goddard, who is currently on leave from UPEI, where he had been serving as dean of education, to allow him time to pursue international humanitarian efforts.
When Goddard suffered the greatest loss of his life - the death of his daughter Capt. Nichola Goddard on May 17, 2006, killed in combat in Afghanistan - he was left searching for words to prepare a fitting obituary for the newspaper.
He turned to Cohen's work to find, than borrow with some adjustment, just the right words.
Goddard drew from one of Cohen's short poems, titled For Anne, to help convey the immense loss he and so many others were struggling through.
He came up with this poignant sentiment: "With Nichola gone, whose smile to compare to the morning sun? Not that we did compare, but we do compare now that she is gone.''
After the obit ran, Goddard was struck with an unsettling thought that perhaps he should not have used Cohen's poem due to intellectual property.
To address a sense of guilt and even wrongdoing, Goddard sent Cohen an apology, explaining first how the artist has been such a big part of the Goddard family.
Cohen was not only willing to forgive Goddard he was willing to give back.
Goddard was simply thrilled to receive for his next birthday - Nichola was killed on his birthday - a book of poetry from Cohen. The book contained this heartfelt inscription: "So honoured to be part of your family's life. Please accept my condolences and my gratitude.''
That, Goddard recalls, was pretty special.
Last fall, he once again reached out to infuse more Cohen into his life or, more accurately, into the memory of his daughter's life.
He wrote to request the singer attend the 5th annual fundraiser for the Nichola Goddard Foundation in Charlottetown to give out one of the two scholarships handed out each year at the dinner.
Cohen's manager informed Goddard the performer could not make the dinner because he will be touring at the time. Instead, Cohen offered to donate one of his original art pieces to assist in the fundraiser.
This year's silent auction will feature a beautiful sketching of a nude woman by Cohen with the inscription "They gave me a medal for dreaming of you.''
The piece, framed at Ellen's Creek Gallery and Framing at 525 North River Rd. in Charlottetown where it can currently be viewed, is valued at $3,500.
The original piece can only be bid on at the silent auction.
Tickets ($125 per person) for the fundraiser being held Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Royal Canadian Legion are available online at nicholagoddard.com or by mailing a cheque payable to the Nichola Goddard Foundation to Sally Goddard, 45 Parkside Drive, Charlottetown C1E 1N1.
Roberta Bondar, the first neurologist in space aboard Discovery in 1992 and Canada's first female astronaut, will be the keynote speaker.
Sally and Tim Goddard of Charlottetown, along with others, established the Nichola Goddard Foundation to raise funds to support scholarships and to financially assist projects that improve the lives of those living in Papua New Guinea where Nichola was born.
To date, the project has brought solar powered lights to some 300 health care centres where work in the past could only be done under the light of day.
Tim Goddard estimates the project will be positively impacting more than one million people in Papua New Guinea by year's end.