One of my favorite Shakespearian quotes from “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream” where Helena describes Hermia to the others in the group.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

Lately, I have seen the mantra on many consumer items: pillows, wall plaques, baby onesies, T-shirts, etc.

Whenever I see this phrase, I think of two wonderful people in my life. My hubby’s grandmother and our daughter. Grandma always said she would live long enough to see our first child. If it’s possible, I believe she imparted her feistiness in our daughter the day Grandma first held her. When looking at our new baby, Grandma said, “she looks just like me when I was born.” Funny way to describe her great grand-daughter when we all knew Grandma’s first photograph was on her wedding day in 1914. She was born in 1898 in a small remote village on the Albania Greece border. So, how Grandma knew what she looked like as a child is anyone’s guess but, she loved us enough to gift our daughter with this compliment.

I’ve always believed if there was a way for Grandma to gift our daughter with her spirit she surely did. Grandma was formidable; though she was small of stature, she was fierce. Agreeing to an arranged marriage at 16, pregnant almost immediately and left in her small European village while her new husband traveled back to the United States to make enough money to bring his bride over; Grandma learned to be resilient enough to make her own way. She became reliant on no one other than herself and developed a character strong enough to keep herself and her new daughter safe. Leaving in 1916 from the port in Athens, she traveled alone with a 15 month old baby in steerage to the US to meet up with her husband of just over two years, all but two months of that marriage spend separated by an ocean. I cannot imagine the uncertainty, the fear, the anxiety of setting off on a many weeks voyage with a baby in tow, trusting that her new husband would be able to find her once she arrived in this new country where they spoke a language other that hers. She was determined that her family would have more, that they would be successful, that they would not suffer the same poverty of her mountain village. Like so many before her, Grandma persevered and found the success she so ardently sought.

At just under five foot tall, Grandma’s personality commanded respect and attention. She walked into a room and filled it with her love but also another quality that made everyone understand; her confidence allowed her to own the room. Confident in herself, Grandma never accepted anything but your best and she let you know through loving expectations that you mattered and your success mattered to her.

Our daughter is much like her Great-Grandma. She is “little but fierce”. Much like her Great Grandma, at just under five foot tall, she owns any room she walks into. Her friendly confidence and pleasant determination allow her to get things done when others fail. She is a fantastic salesperson whether she is selling you on an idea or selling a product. Convincing others to do what needs doing is one of her strengths. Her hubby loves it when she contacts customer service to arbitrate any dispute because she doesn’t allow them to buffalo her into anything less than an equitable settlement. Maybe she should have been a lawyer. A few years ago a friend of mine said, “Your daughter is like a bulldog, she grabs you with her sweet smile and confident attitude and then doesn’t let go till she gets what she wants from you.”

My daughter is fierce. I think Grandma would be proud to know she passed on that determination and drive to another generation.


  1. I’ve never seen a T-shirt with this quotation on it but if I did I’d buy it immediately – for my wife! She’s a bit bigger now than when I met her (then around 40kg) but her students, including burly 18/19 year olds, knew better than to mess with her and the same applies to her students now. Now you’ve reminded me of the quotation I may well make a T-shirt in time for the first day in school after the summer break!
    Wonderful post with some of your family history. I wish I knew as much about my grandmother, also a formidable lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You should get the T-shirt made. It could be the beginning of an interesting year for your wife’s students. It definitely could set the tone for the year OR knowing 18/19 year olds, they could just laugh at it or ignore the sentiment. Hopefully they take it to heart and give her a little more respect.
      Aren’t we both so very lucky to have had such formidable women in our backgrounds? I certainly think so.


      • I think so too. Both grandmother, who was probably the biggest influence on me, and my mother, were amazingly strong women but I didn’t really appreciate that till much later. This certainly was responsible for the fact that most, if not all, my friends are female.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Isn’t that the way? We always realize what we got long after it’s gone. If I could have one do-over it would be to realize in the moment the wisdom of those strong women in my life.


  2. This would fit my Great Gran to a T. She was tiny (4 feet three I think), but ruled the roost over her 6 foot 7 husband! I still see her flick him with the tea towel for either treading mud on her clean floor or pinching something fresh out of the oven.

    Liked by 1 person

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