A doctor, an athlete and a special granddaughter
Her name is Kelsey Kate Poos-Benson, a big name for a very special young lady.
She is the twin of Taylor, daughter of my daughter Phoebe and Steve, her wonderful husband, and my granddaughter. As I’m writing this she is almost 26 and has accomplished more in those few years than anyone I know personally.
When Kelsey and Taylor came into this world, I came from Kentucky to help. You see, it was quite a job since they had a big brother named Kyle who was two years older and not too happy to have the new competition. This improved as time went on but at first, it truly did take all of us.
The first thing I noticed as I entered the children’s world was how close Kelsey and Taylor were from the beginning. They were so close that we put them in the same crib. Being so small, they fit perfectly and almost always were holding each other. They even sucked each other’s thumbs.
By the time she started school, it was clear she loved to learn and made sure her grades were good. Another thing was clear: she already understood empathy and a desire to help other people. Kelsey was still in grade school when I found out I had macular degeneration. When I explained to her what that meant she said, “Don’t worry Mema, I’ll be your eyes.” Pretty deep for a 10-year-old.
When she was in high school, I began my lifelong struggle with degenerative bone disease in my spine. It affected the whole family, but for Kelsey it may have changed the course of her life or at least it got her thinking.
She pursued a career in physical therapy but she wanted to go all the way. She wanted her doctor’s degree. She no longer wanted to just help people feel better. She wanted to change lives and cure them. And for years she studied and also worked to help pay for it all.
As I look back on these years, I’ve never seen a more dedicated student. It became even more evident that whatever Kelsey wanted, she would be determined to get it. At 24, she became Dr. Kelsey Kate Poos-Benson.
During these years she became extremely close to her Poppa, Gene Brody, my husband and her grandfather. The connection they had was beautiful and the thing that brought them to their many hours of discussion was Poppa was a marathon runner. Just watching her face as he talked about all of the races he had participated in over the years, I knew what was coming next.
She had always been an athlete. From an early age, she became a master horsewoman and rode in many events. Not only was she a master at it, but it may be where she found her passionate love for animals. Her two dogs today are as dear to her as any dogs ever could be.
Her desire to follow in Poppa’s footsteps was not hard to understand. But life stepped in. A trip to Mayo Clinic diagnosed Gene with lymphoma. These circumstances made it necessary for Gene, myself and our two cats to leave our farm in Kentucky and move to Colorado. This only made them closer as Gene’s health failed.
Kelsey began to train for a lymphoma-sponsored triathlon. When she told her Poppa what she was doing, as sick as he was, he went with Phoebe and Steve to watch her do the triathlon. And it was all in Poppa’s honor.
Then in 2013 we could see that Gene’s time with us was short. Before he died he wanted to talk to Kelsey. He told her to keep the legend they had started. He told her he loved her and handed her his 1983 New York Marathon medal. He passed shortly after that.
That’s all she needed to push her to train for six months straight while working full time in St. Anthony’s hospital. This meant she often had to run or swim or bike after dark. When I asked her about this, she said, “Poppa was always with me.”
How she did all of this would be a mystery to me except for the fact that I knew Gene and I knew my granddaughter. On May 5, our Kelsey fulfilled her dream and did a half IronMan, which is 70.3 miles long. Her scores were as follows: swim in open water 1.2 miles, bike ride 50 miles, run 13.1 miles.
As she entered the water she held up the 1983 New York Marathon medal which she wore around her neck and yelled, “Let’s go Poppa!” When she finished her mountainously difficult run, she, once again, held the medal high and yelled, “We did it Poppa!” She told me later that she felt him with her that whole day.
This young lady, who I have known all of her life, has such a depth, a huge giving heart, and an old soul inside a beautiful and fit body and to top it off she’s amazingly smart.
If ever I could have asked God to create the perfect granddaughter for me and human being for the world, He would have undoubtedly answered, “But I already have.” Here is Dr. Kelsey Kate Poos-Benson.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.