My mother, Paula Girven, was a two-time Olympic high-jumper, qualifying for both the 1976 & 1980 teams. She still holds numerous records in her home state of Virginia, and she was the first African-American woman to receive an athletic scholarship to the University of Maryland. It’s on record: my mother was an amazing woman - tenacious, poised, and elegant.
But as my mother’s daughter, I got to experience the woman who wrapped me in warm blankets fresh from the dryer. She baked me banana bread when I was sick. She made exercise and movement a joy in our household, while simultaneously never pushing me to follow in her footsteps. She loved Chanel No. 5, and pink roses, and pearls. Christmas decorations and fat-cheeked babies. Organization and order, but also spontaneity. Sign-language. Hospitality. Giving to those in need. Being a world-class personal trainer to those seeking more strength, flexibility, and power in their lives.
In July 2019, our mom was diagnosed with advanced cancer. After 15 months of struggle, she passed peacefully in her sleep, near family, in mid-October.
During these pandemic times, we'll be holding an online memorial as soon as possible for all the lives my mom touched: friends and co-workers from her many lives as athlete, trainer, colleague, fellow worshiper, and all-around spreader of kindness. We'll let you know when this is taking place and how you can participate.
Our mother lived frugally and had minimal debt, but there are still funeral and end-of-life expenses that need to be attended to. We know our mother touched so many lives. If you're able to contribute to these expenses, we'd greatly appreciate it.