- Mary Robinson, Irish President (b. 1944)
I am Irish and growing up was told that St. Patrick's Day was MY holiday. As a kid, I took that to be true. My siblings didn't have flags saying "Tyler go Bragh" or "Robbie go Bragh". But I did. Everywhere on St. Patrick's Day I would tell anyone who would listen the holiday was MY special day and share the saying of "Erin Go Bragh". Of course I found out later, it was my Mom letting me feel I was special, but that my siblings were Irish just like me. Regardless, I identified with the Emerald Isle and the strong women who I am honored to call my ancestors. One such women is my Grandmother, Roberta S. Cole.
Grandmother, Grammer and now Gigi as she is called by my girls, has been my inspiration growing up. She was an athletic female during a time when women weren't running. Grammer has a fire in her that matches her red (now white) hair. She raised my Mom and her siblings to be strong willed and independent. Thank goodness, they all passed those traits to my siblings, cousins and me. Grammer taught me to go after my goals, regardless of what anyone would think. She didn't just preach it, but practiced it. She traveled the world to New Guinea, Kenya, Holland and Dublin teaching others how to write and produce videos, information learned from her time as a tv producer in San Francisco. That occurred during her late 60's!
Grammer was also one of the first female marathoners. When she did the San Francisco Marathon, I remember being strapped into the bike trailer as my Dad pulled us around to cheer her on. SHE INSPIRED ME TO NEVER STOP AND JUST GO FOR IT!
When I did my first triathlon at 16, I made sure to talk with Grammer all about training. She let me use her Bob Jackson bike for the bike portion and I felt like I had some of her strength with me. I placed and excitedly called her. Later that summer, Grammer and I ran a 5K race together. She was 70 years old and a force to be reckoned with. We both won our age groups, and shared in a memory that forever holds a place dear to my heart. Mom captured a photo of Grammer and me with our medals around our neck, and I cherish it because for me it symbolizes to keep going and never give up.
That headstrong determination and athleticism is still making waves with whatever Grammer does. Living in Seattle now, Grammer did a race two years ago using her walker. The police were trailing behind her, since she was one of the last participants. Grammer told them "Please get off my tail boys. I WILL FINISH THIS RACE". This past year, she has fallen a few times. Part of the reason, her stubborn pride. A few months ago Grammer was in a room doing Physical Therapy for a stroke and there was a chair in front of her walker prohibiting her from moving where she wanted to go. Instead of asking for help, she stood up, picked up the walker and moved it to the other side of the chair. It may drive my Mom and her siblings mad, but it actually makes me a bit proud that she is so independent. And people are curious where I get my determination from...
While I think about the luck of the Irish and the joyful glee felt by many during this month, I have to thank my stars I am a granddaughter to a stubborn red headed Irish women. If her enthusiasm and determination has been passed to me, I feel lucky. The fact her short stature and speedy legs have traveled through the gene pool to me let's me know I am blessed. So, in the realm of Irish traditions I raise a pint and toast you strong incredible women, and your children who look up to you every day to great strength and pride.
"Slainte" - To your health
- Erin Kreitz Shirey, CEO Power Fitness PDX, Master Trainer & Coach