“Will you be called Grandma, Granny, Grandpa, Gramps, Granddad, Papa or Nana?”

Grandparents MonthFor all of you who remember your grandparents fondly, are grandparents yourself, or look forward to being a grandparent in the future, this guest post is to celebrate Grandparents Day (September 13) and Grandparents Month (September).

Guest blogger, Jane Hanser, author of Dogs Don’t Look Both Ways {Abbreviated from the original with the author’s permission]

It’s an exciting time when the first grandchild appears in this world and the family negotiates which grandparent will carry which name. With divorce and remarriage there can be three or more sets of grandparents! And that makes the naming game even more of a challenge! The proportion of grandparents raising the children of their children is on the rise, too. These grandparents, who have needs of their own, step in to raise their grandchildren usually under difficult circumstances and with little preparation or warning.

My mother’s mother was the only grandparent I knew, the only grandparent who was alive in my lifetime. I remember the smell of her fresh sausage, and her snoring when, at a young age, I shared my bed with her when she stayed overnight. But Granny didn’t reach out much to me. I would have loved it if she had. But that wasn’t her.

Ida, my paternal grandmother, is the one I feel the deepest connection to. But that didn’t happen until well into my adulthood. I sought out her grave, and discovered her given name wasn’t Ida at all! Her European name Chana Henye bore testimony to both Hebrew and Yiddish roots, but was replaced upon reaching the New World. Ida, in casting off her old world name, may have been trying to create something new while I, in reaching back to her generation, am trying to grasp, understand, and hold on to the beautiful things about my ancestors, their lives, personalities and values I tried for years to locate even one photo of her. The closest I came was a photo of her sister as a young married woman and which I have prominently displayed in my office.

Not all grandparents revel in their grandkids. My husband remembers his maternal grandfather saying to him and his brother, “Wassa matter mit you”? and yell or turn away. I, Nana, however, am waiting eagerly for the first time we’ll be called upon to babysit our three grandkids. We don’t expect we will have them in their beds quite at their regular bedtime, we don’t even promise that they’ll fall asleep before we do! But we do promise that it’ll be a night to remember!

6 comments on ““Will you be called Grandma, Granny, Grandpa, Gramps, Granddad, Papa or Nana?”

  1. Lovely story, Jane. You help us remember our own grandparents. I think the role is evolving. I know my mother thought she had the role of teacher with my children. Meanwhile, they just wanted someone who loved them. I hope I am more of the grandparent that my children wanted when they were young.

    • Matilda,
      (Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.) I’m glad my piece played a part in your remembering your grandparents. Many grandparents do more, but Yes! Bottom line is the grandchildren just want somebody who will love them. My expectation is that your grandchildren will be quite fulfilled with you in your capacity as grandparent!

  2. Fascinating where our memories take us, isn’t it? Let’s not forget that some of us are ‘Invisible Grandparents’ and have no in-person inter-generational time to pass on our values and memories, or even imagine what we’d be called. I am such a grandma and wrote a book about how I healed from these circumstances beyond my control. I set up two websites where invisible, alienated or estranged grandpareents can share their stories inspired by my columns in GRANDmagazine.com … check out http://www.leavealegacyoflovenow.com. Thanks and blessing on your grandparenting times!

    • Pat,
      Yes, memories, or having to piece together our sense of who our missing, and missed, relative(s) were.

      Yes it’s painful when we are prevented from seeing a grandchild (or any other relative, a niece, nephew, even a parent). But eventually your grandchildren will grow up and no longer be minors. Without getting into my own personal experience on this matter, which is considerable, I believe that you must be patient and understanding and allow your grandchildren the time they require to grow up. Eventually they will want to construct their own understanding of reality and they will want to – and will be able to – make their own connections.

  3. Pingback: It's Grandparents Month: Memoir Writers Take Note — Memoir Writing Blog

  4. With six grandchildren so far, I can attest to their joys! They own me in their own special ways. I wanted to share this quote with you … possibly paraphrased … but still the message is there. “We love our children but we are IN love with our grandchildren.” Oh yes. Enjoy every moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *