16 April 2010

Of Grandpas, Nonnies and Captain Jacks

Janssen's post about naming grandparents has inspired me to write my own.

My family called my dad's parents Grandpa and Nana. The grandpa could have been moderately confusing since our other grandfathers went by the same name, but usually to clarify we just added his last name. It actually wasn't ever very confusing to me since he died before I was born, and we just didn't talk about him a whole lot.

My mom's parents were divorced, and my mom's maiden name is Dutch, so it's Van[something]. Thus, her dad was Grandpa Van, and his wife (whom I never met) was named Ina. I don't think I ever even spoke to Ina on the phone. She and Grandpa Van lived in California, and my mom was just not that close to her father. My mom's mom was Grandma. That was simple enough. And her husband (who is the only grandparent I really knew) was called Grandpa. That is until his father came to live with him and my grandmother. This was long before I was born, but because both men had the same last name, it wasn't really feasible to call them both Grandpa R. So, my grandpa decided to go by Captain Jack. Of course, by the time I came along, Captain Jack's father was long gone, but we still sometimes referred to our grandpa as Captain Jack. It was fun.

I've thought quite a bit about grandpa names, even before Janssen's blog post. There is a story of our oldest niece, at about age three, who came out to Utah with her parents. Of course, there were many, many, many grandparents to see because several of her great grandparents are still living. One day, little Katie said, "I have a lot of Bammas and Bampas!" And it's true.

Eric's family always distinguished his grandparents by their last names. A bit of a funny story is that Eric's Grandpa K. has ten children; four daughters and ten sons. Somewhere along the way his sons started calling him Don, so most of Eric's cousins call that grandpa, Grandpa Don. But we don't; we just call him Grandpa, and refer to him as Grandpa K.

Eric was able to meet two of his great-grandparents, but he was so little he doesn't remember what he called them. I was with his family once when they were talking about one of his great-grandmothers, and they referred to her as "the raisin Grandma." But that was just the way the kids remembered her, and had nothing to do with her name, which was Grandma Hazel.

One of my favorite things ever is that a number of Grandma and Grandpa L's great-grandchildren refer to them as Grandma Great and Grandpa Great. This thrills me to no end, and I hope they both live long enough for me to hear our own kids call them such.

In the South, there are a surprising number of mee-maws and paw-paws. And no, I'm not making that up.

One of my friends had a grandfather named Paul, and he signed all cards and such as GrandPaul, which is just genius.

One of my nephews has a Bitzy, and it's rather suitable for this particular grandma.

And all this brings me to my quandary - assuming Eric and I actually get to have grandkids one day, what will they call us? I might just go with Nonnie. Eric may go for something militaristic, like General Grandpa.


Jenn said...

Hey! I am that friend whose grandpa's name is Paul. Unless maybe you have multiple friends whose grandpas are named Paul. He actually writes it GramPaul, probably because that is how most kids pronounce it, I think (rather than enunciating the graND). And I am also one of those southerners with a Mimma and a Papa (pronounced paw paw). Even worse, my mom's grandma was called Gangaw. Yes, like gang-aww. Also, I like the title of this post. :)

Jenny said...

Captain Jack! I think that's what I'm going to pick when I'm a grandmother. Has character.

Erin said...

Abe suggested that Eric go with "Generalissimo".

Jessica Leigh said...

We mostly just did that last name thing... though my Grandma Mason's parents (both of whom I knew) were Mimi and Pa. In general reference, G&G Mason are Grandma and Grandpa and my dad's parent we tend to tag on the Turner... hmm...

I do usually call Gpa Mason "Gramps" though :)

You should ask Michelle about some of the names my dad has suggested for Callan (and all future grandkids) to call him... oh boy... I think my mom is using Nana :)

I ♥ grandparents! They're pretty fabulous :)

P1 Steven said...

Rhonda's mom (Bitzy) had that nickname since she was very little. When she went to her first day of school she did not know her real name. She said her name was "Bitzy". When her first grandchild was born she thought she was to young to be called grandma, so she decided to go by her family nickname "Bitzy" with all her family. It silly to hear all the babies say it.