My Grandma Lil, right, and my mum.

My Grandma Lil was, and still is, an inspiration to me.  

As a young kid I used to spend a lot of time with her, Grampy Joe and Uncle Mike. I remember many outings to watch our local soccer team together. They even took me to the cup finals at Wembley London, when our team Swindon played against Arsenal in 1969. We were giant killers, the underdogs, and we won! 

Grandma Lil had some serious physical challenges with ulcerated legs. Many times, the discussion between my mum and Grandma Lil was whether her legs would need to be amputated. But she never got down hearted – and it never came to that. She would bandage her legs, get on her bike and cycle for miles each day, even into her 80s. How did she do this?  

In addition to her mental toughness and positive attitude, she would take quotes out of self-help books and magazines and use them for inspiration. One that has stuck with our family to this day is: “I can and I will”. I have remembered this quote many times in my life. At work, when the pressure was immense, and I didn’t know if I would get enough salary to support my young family, I mustered the inner strength to succeed by remembering Grandma Lil and  “I can and I will”.  

Grandma Lil

When I was preparing to sail solo to Bermuda, I wrote on the cockpit fiberglass before the start of the race that important expression: “I can and I will.” Four days into the race I faced several physical and mental challenges, as well as boat rigging problems. I looked at those words, smiled, remembered Gran’s strength, fought on, and finished the race.  

In my early days with epilepsy and with a missing piece of skull, I faced many challenges: learning how to live life with anti-convulsants that made me drowsy and tired; having periods of memory loss and the fear of another seizure; learning to accept that I had epilepsy; failing half of my high school classes. But I slowly gained the mental strength to succeed. I was able to overcome these challenges in part by living by Grandma Lil’s example: “I can and I will.” 

We should all remember these words when faced with difficulty. We can then find success in our own way, as we try to take one more step in our lives.  

Who inspires you? Who can you inspire? 

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