Story by Carrie Tergin | Apr 26, 2017

A Word from the Mayor

I talk often about the influence of my grandfather George, “Popou,” so I wanted to share about my grandmother, his wife, “Yiayia.” 

I’m often asked what the “O” stands for in Carrie O. Tergin.  I was named after my grandmother, Ourania, which means “heavenly” or “sky” in Greek. In Greek mythology, she was the goddess of astronomy and astrology, one of the nine Muses. Those who remember my grandmother know she sometimes went by Irene, since Ourania was hard to pronounce (Oo-ra-nee-a). My mother also goes by Irene, much easier than “Ariadne,” the name she was born with in Greece. Both these women were born in that country; both were married after their loves came to Greece on a visit from America.

Popou saw a photo of Ourania at the Manhattan Café, on High Street, where The Grand Cafe is now. If those walls could talk! Yiayia’s sister was part of the Greek family who owned the café, and when my grandfather learned of Ourania, he traveled to Greece to find her. With a picture of her in his hand, he found her, married her, and brought her to America. After 60 years of marriage, two children (my dad, Jim, and Aunt Helen), and five grandchildren, she will forever be a strong influence in my life.  She was quiet, kind, beautiful, sweet, and soft-spoken. She taught me service through her volunteering at the Memorial Hospital gift shop and serving coffee at St. Mary’s. She became a mother to my mother, who came to America at the age of 19 after being swept off her feet by my handsome father when he visited Greece on a summer vacation.

I get my soft side from her, and my stylish side. I told her I wanted her rings and jewelry when she grew out of them. Now my family is preparing for the fourth generation — my sister, Helen, will soon have a baby girl. Helen’s middle name is Filo, after our maternal grandmother in Greece, Triantafyllia. The Greek word means “rose,” or literally 30 (trianta) petals (fyllia). My grandmother Filo was active, always getting into everything and going everywhere. Sound familiar? I know where I get it from! 

Ourania and Filo, Heaven and Rose. They are who I am today: strong and soft, leading and helping. As the second woman to be elected as mayor of our capital city, I feel the influence and love of the women in my family. They would be so proud, and I can’t wait to see what the new generation will bring.

When I look to heaven I think of Ourania and Filo. I think how fortunate I am to have been so close to my grandmothers. I was blessed to have one grandmother live with us growing up, and the other I visited in Greece. They made me the woman, leader, and Mayor that I am today.  #Family #JCMO