Monday, April 25, 2016

Let's Talk Grandmothers

Lucille and Frank Burdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Back in the days when I was working as a psychologist in private practice, I attended a weekly case conference at the Yale health plan. Students took turns presenting cases of people they were working with. Invariably, if someone had come from the horrific background that should have scarred them, but they appeared to be functioning well, one of the old guard therapists would ask: "is there a grandmother in the picture?" Because even if the parents were completely whacked out, having a loving grandmother made a huge difference in a child's life and normal development.

My mother's mother was a very sweet woman, whom I remember as warm and loving. Sadly, she died of a heart attack when I was around seven. (I use her name now as my pen name.) My dad's mother was a tough little Germanic woman, who had been very strict with her two sons, and her husband! I don't remember her as a warm person like my maternal grandmother, but I enjoyed her especially as I got older. She was spunky and energetic and she lived to the ripe old age of 92. At 91, she asked me to buy her a pair of pink sweatpants that she cut off below the knees to wear to exercise class.

I am thinking of all this now because soon it will be my turn (unbelievably, as young as I am) to be a grandmother! Our first granddaughter is due in August and we can't wait to meet her.

HALLIE EPHRON: My mother’s mother spoke Yiddish and very little English, so though I always wanted to know what life had been like for her in Russia before she came here, I was never able to find out. My best memories of her revolve around food. She was not a great cook. The matzo balls in her soup sank. When I stayed at her house, she’d serve me a can Campbell’s condensed tomato soup on spaghetti, a pat of butter on top giving it the gourmet touch. On the other hand, she made cinnamon cookies that were to die for – thin crisp cookies that you brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar before baking. Also sensational was her chopped liver -- I have the big wooden bowl and meat grinder she used.

Hallie's Granddaughter
I cooked with my three-year-old granddaughter for the first time when she was here last a few weeks ago. (She calls me Grommo -- a twist on what my daughters call me which is Mommo.) She wore my apron and stood on a step stool so she could reach the counter. She doesn't like to get her hands dirty which is going to be a problem. When she’s older I’ll tell her about the spaghetti with tomato soup.


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I had three grandmothers: two paternal and one maternal. I was lucky that they lived to see me have children. My grandmother Spencer (Maw-maw or Spencie) was a sweet, warm, plump southern lady who showered my with unadulterated approval. I can recall as a child sitting on her lap, leaning against her commodious bosom, while she sang to me. Gramma Fleming was short, shaped like a fireplug, and ran her house (along with her husband and two large sons) like Mussolini ran the trains. She was the queen of cookies - I would walk to her house after school and there was always some sort of delicious treat waiting. 

My Grandma Greuling, my mother's mother, looms largest in my life. We lived with her for a year when we got out of the military, and then moved into a house in her tiny town (which is the basis for some of the fictional Millers Kill and Cossayuharie.) She was skinny and fierce, with a white perm like a tightly-kinked poodle and a tremendous pride of home and family. And opinionated? She would have killed on one of those Sunday morning political talk shows. In my novels, the character of Russ's mother, Margy Van Alstyne, is definitely rooted in Grandma Greuling and Gramma Fleming.

Also? I love hearing the names people use for grandmotherhood. My mom is Grammy (like Debs!) and here in Maine there are lots of Memes. My best friend is her granddaughter's Mimi (very chic!) and I have another friend who has a Nana. When we came back from Germany we called Grandma Greuling Oma for a while, but it didn't stick. Me, I'm thinking of going full Downton Abbey and going by Granny in that far-future day when my kids reproduce. Lucy, what's your grandmother name going to be?

LUCY: I had Grandma and Nana, but I like the sound of Grammy. Of course the kid may find something altogether different!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I'm Grammy, too. And I do love it--it really touches me when Eli and Josh call me Grammy--because it's...all they know, right? It's not like they think oh, her name is Hank but we call her Grammy. I AM Grammy. And that's very special.

Hank's Gramma Rose
My Gramma Rose, mom's mother, was a little weird. We never quite knew what to make of her. When she died, gosh, I bet I was 10, Mom and I cleaned out her house, and there were, well, multiples of things. It was all very organized, and no piles of newspapers or anything like that, and not crowded. But not like three of a thing. Ten. Twenty.  Or the same dress in several sizes, unworn. I am haunted by it. I took all her little white gloves, though.Gramma Minnie, now, a different story. She was terrific. Smart, and so chic, and she and Grampa Dave lived in a cool downtown apartment. She taught me to knit, and crochet, and type. She made fabulous food, truly fabulous, perfect matzo balls, incredible cakes, yummy little tiny pancakes. But she would NEVER give out a recipe! I have her silver trays and candlesticks, and her Wedgewood shepherdesses, and she specifically bequeathed me her watch.

I once asked Gramma Minnie (her name was Minda)  to type out her history, about the little town she came from in Russia, and what it was like to live there. I was so excited to find out the inside scoop. But when she gave it to me--gosh, I bet I was twenty--I could tell it was all made up. ALL made up. Everyone was lovely, the life was pleasant and peaceful, there was no fear or strife. Hmmm. Russia around, what 1915? I don't think so.  But when I gently pressed her, she insisted it was all correct.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I only knew my mother's mother. Her name was Lillian but she was Nanny to me and my brother and all my cousins. She lived with us from the time I was born and was not only my caretaker when I was a child, but my best friend until she died at 86--far too young, I think now. She taught me to read, and best of all, to be interested in life. One of my great regrets is that she never knew my daughter--she died two years before Kayti was born. I wish I knew more about her life before she came to us, but she didn't much like to talk about it. My grandfather had died while she was trying to raise four kids during the depression. She was a teacher, and had taught for a while in California before she came to live with us. It makes me sad that I don't even know where.

Nanny Lillian in her teaching days

My mom, now, was busy and a little impatient when I was a child. Not a bad mother, by any means, just very involved with my dad and their business and their life. But, oh my goodness, she was a terrific grandmother. She always had time for Kayti and my parents' house was a wonderful second home.

As for BEING a grandmother, it is the most fun ever. Lucy, you will love it!! Will you be close enough to see her often, at least part of the year? You can't imagine how much you will adore this baby.

I've gone back and forth over the name--Grammy or Nana. We decided on Grammy, but I'm still torn. I love Nana because it reminds me of my grandmother--and of all those English books I love. Last night I was holding Wren and talking granny nonsense to her, "Do you love your Nanagrammy, Grammynana?" And Kayti said, "I've got it. Nanagram."

So that's my new name. Nanagram. (We'll see what Wren thinks!)

Rhys's grandmother
RHYS BOWEN: I adored my maternal grandmother. She raised me during my early years as my mother always worked (as a teacher). My mom was always efficient, no-nonsense and did not show emotion. My Nanny hugged me, took me on her knee and sang to me. When my grandfather died she moved in with us, as did my great-aunt and they were a big presence in my life. Nanny lived to see my first three children and wrote me long letters in beautiful copperplate handwriting when she was 90.

I hardly knew my father's mother. We saw her from time to time but we never bonded. My children's grandparents were in England and they had the same problem. When they did see their grandparents they were spoiled and made a tremendous fuss of. I've been so lucky that I've been a big part of my grandchildren's lives. I held Sam when he was two minutes old. Ditto Lizzy. I've taken care of both sets and they are so comfortable running into my house without knocking, finding their toys, helping cook pancakes etc. Now they are teenagers they share laughs and dreams with me. I'm Nana and I love it.

Tell us about a grandmother in your life or the kind of grandmother you've become or hope to be...


  1. Congratulations, Lucy . . . grandbabies are wonderful!

    I remember my mother's mom as a very capable, no-nonsense, independent woman. We spent every Saturday with Gram; Jean and I spent New Year's Eve with her, sat up to watch the ball drop, then helped take down the tree the next day while we watched the Rose Parade. Wonderful memories. When I was in college, I lived with her during the summer because it was a short walk from her house to my summer job.

    My dad's mother was a lovely Southern lady; for reasons I have long forgotten, we called Momo. She was a wonderful cook and I always enjoyed visiting her. For many years, my grandmothers lived about four blocks away from each other

    I'm Grammie to our Colorado grandbabies, Nana to our Virginia Little Ones. Whichever child, whatever name, it's all good.

  2. I love all these stories! Can't wait to be a grandma myself, but it ain't happening yet. Instead we're quite close to our friends' children - now ages 7 and 10 - and just got invited to attend Grandparents' Day at their school in a couple of weeks. Honored.

    My mother's mother was little, a brilliant baker and seamstress, and snored like a sailor. We called her Mama Ruth and she had little sausage curls on the sides of her head fastened with silver bobby pins. She took the train to southern California to visit with us for a week at a time because my bullheaded Irish grandfather had decided not to speak to my mother a few weeks before I was born.

    My father's mother was more reserved but we saw her more often. Excellent cook, and I treasured the occasional sleepover - only one grandchild at a time - at their house. We'd go out in the morning and pick oranges out of the back yard for juice. Mama Dot, the oldest of the six Henderson children, was one of the first women to drive across the country in a car when she was 18 - and I have her journal to prove it. Lovely memories today, Reds. Thank you.

  3. Oh, what wonderful stories. I've not had children so I won't know the joys of grannyhood. I hope the Reds keep sharing so I can live it vicariously! Lucy, congratulations!

    My mother's parents both died before I was born. My mother had an intense dislike of my father's parents so I only saw them once in my life. My great grandparents on my mother's side, completely different story. They both lived past 100 so I have strong memories of them, and their farm in upstate New York on the Erie Barge Canal. My Memere (we are French - and I hope I spelled that right, not sure I ever saw it in print before) taught me to cook and can on a Queen Anne stove in the kitchen, how to feed chickens and collect their eggs, and introduced me to the joy of letting the cool water from the ice box on the porch run over my feet on hot summer days. She was a dumpling of a woman with a backbone of steel. There was nothing she couldn't handle. Quite the role model as they say. I still miss them.

  4. Love all these stories, and I'm so excited for your impending grandmotherhood, Roberta/Lucy! It's the best gig going, as everyone says, to be the very special person in your grandchild's life. Nothing better.

    I was really lucky, growing up. All four of my grandparents were present and accounted for, and we saw them every weekend. On Saturday evening we would go to my dad's parents, and my cousins who lived across the street from them would come over. Sundays after church were for my mother's family, a big, noisy Catholic crew with dozens of cousins, and jokey uncles, and several great aunts I had trouble keeping straight. They were all short, plump and had big bosoms.

    My great grandmother was also alive until I was in high school, and she went to my aunt's every Wednesday to bake bread. We called them all Grandma, but she was Little Grandma because she was so tiny, and very elegant, with beautiful white marcelled hair. Oddly, her name was Charlotte, which means "little woman" in French. My middle daughter has Charlotte as a middle name, and she too is tiny.

    When my daughter was pregnant she gave me first pick at what I wanted to be called. Her mother-in-law had already chosen Nana, but I wanted to be good old Grandma. My mother's last name is Smith, so I suggested they call her Granny Smith, which is perfect for her: she's also little, and sweet to the grandkids. Now everyone calls her that, and she loves it.

    The grandmothwer/grandchild relationship is pure, unconditional love, on both sides. Such a gift. Now I'm all verklempt.

  5. I love grandmother stories!

    My maternal grandmother was called Grom Tit (La. French for little grandmother). She was widowed at a young age and had a hard life until, just before WW2, she became a cafeteria lady at the elementary school. She was much beloved because she gave away leftover food. When I was an adult and took her some place, we'd often be stopped by some older man or lady who would stop and tell me that sometimes, thanks to my grandmother, all the food their family had to eat for the weekend was school rolls and butter.

    My other grandmother was MaMa but people called her Mrs. John. She was 5'1" and had twins who were 8 lbs each. Because I also had twins, she loved to tell me she was "nothing but baby from her neck to her knees" when she was expecting. She was a businesswoman. My grandfather bought her a little grocery store on the bayouside, and that was her domain. She had 6 children but lost 2--one as a baby, one as a teenager--and while she was a jolly person most of the time, she had an edge of sadness too. She also LOVED to shop.

  6. Thank you Reds for letting me channel my Nanna again. Why my maternal grandmother's Nana has a second "n," I don't know. What I do know is that this wonderful woman, who lived to be 108, was my rock and is responsible for any resemblance to "normal" I bear. She had a brain-injured son (wasn't place in an incubator after a premature birth) and lived so long because she had to take care of him. One day she announced it was time for her to die and asked would I take care of Uncle Buddy, which we did, keeping him in his own home two doors away for another ten years.

    What Lucy said about having a loving grandmother in your life is so true. It makes all the difference in the world as you can see from all of the tales we are recounting. Nanna is my inspiration for my own grandmothering.

    Coincidentally (hardly), my WIP is about a grandmother.

  7. Lucy, congratulations on the news of your impending grandmotherhood! We called both our grandmothers "Mamaw." My dad's mother was a sweet, hardworking woman who never complained and made the best apple pies. And she absolutely adored her great-grandbabies. My mom's mom raised 13 children on a farm in the hills of eastern Kentucky, where she was also the postmistress until the government forced her to retire at 65 (when they shut down her post office). She had the gift of making her home seem like our home--we knew we were welcomed and loved and that is a treasure that even as kids we had the sense to appreciate.

  8. I love all these stories, grandmothers and what we call them. My grandmother was Grandma. Not very exciting, especially from a family of writers.

    Hank, you have to put that thing about the duplicate dresses in different sizes etc. in a book.

    Reminded me: My husband's father never threw an item of clothing away and the pockets in all his old coats and trousers were a virtual filing system for keepsakes. I think he knew if he left them lying around his wife would throw them away. She had an unerring knack for throwing away the valuables an keeping the junk.

  9. thank you all so much for the congrats--we are very excited. They live in CA right now--phooey, but I am lobbying hard for an east coast move:).

    And love love love all your stories--thank you for sharing. "Dumpling of a woman with a backbone of steel"--love that so much!

  10. I knew both my grandmothers as I was growing up. My maternal grandmother was the fun, creative one, who could sew and cook and make amazing trees and wreaths from pine cones, but looking back on my memories of her, I think she was more focused on her own daughters--my mother and aunt--than she was on her grandchildren. She introduced me to the joys of having a large circle of adult women on your side, but it was my father's mother who actually sat down and taught me things. She taught me to knit and crochet, and to cook her favorite homestyle egg noodles and pinwheel cookies, but when I asked this authentic hillbilly grandmother to teach me how to make quilts, she said, "Oh, honey, you can buy really nice blankets in the store!" She actively volunteered for the Navy Mothers, the YMCA, and her church, and was a force of nature when it came to making customer service complaint calls on the phone. She was a staunch Democrat, and I'm pretty sure she believed the Holy Trinity was God, Jesus, and FDR. She was extremely hard to please, and always favored the eldest child (not me, or my father) but when I hear the word "grandmother" she's the first person I think of. Weirdly, these days, I hear a lot of my friends say their grandchildren call them their "Gigi." I honor my own hillbilly roots in preferring Granny.

  11. By the way, Deb, I adore the idea of you being called Nanagram!

  12. These stories make me think of grandmothers past. My mother told me about her grandmother Florence, a tiny woman who was always called "Flossie" by her well-over-six-foot husband. Even as an older lady, she always changed her dress and spritzed on some perfume before her husband came home (advice her daughter gave to me when I was marrying Ross, so I guess it worked!) My mother said she adored having her grandchildren to visit and would always bake them inedible cookies. She was a dreadful cook.

    My grandmother told me about her grandmother, Anna Barkley Hall, who was evidently quite formidable. Her husband was some sort of 19th century invalid who retired to his bed after siring eight children, leaving his wife to run the household. In my grandmother's recollection, ABH always wore elegant dresses and was very firm about good manners. My grandmother adored her.

    I love the fact that those grandmothers live on in my memories, even though they died long before I was born. I guess that proves what Michele said: having a loving grandmother in your life make a world of difference.

  13. I loved reading this post this morning - thank you all.

    Congratulations on becoming a grandmother, Lucy/Robeta! I think you'll be great at this.

    Hank, that you have your grandmother's white gloves. Oh my. I love that.

    Nanagram! Debs! Perfect Perfect Perfect!

    I have a grandmother that no one would believe if I wrote about her. Truly. Meanest woman on God's green earth. My mom's mother. My mother finally removed herself from the toxic orbit many years ago and it was for the best. There are stories there, many. But I haven't been able to bring myself to tell them. Maybe one of these days. To say something in her defense, she had a very hard life. My mom's dad died when my mom was a little girl, leaving Liz (grandmother) a single mom of 3 small children. Illiterate, making a living by picking crabs - paid pennies per pound of picked crabmeat, she remarried and ended up raising 11 children with an alcoholic, also illiterate husband.

    My paternal grandmother was the most wonderful woman imaginable, however. So things were balanced somewhat I guess. My dad's mom died while he was in Korea. My granddad (who I loved to the moon and back) remarried. A lovely, quite sophisticated woman named Lura. Lura was not a "bake cookies" kind of woman. A career woman in every sense, but loving and funny with a sharp irreverent wit. I learned a lot from Lura and she pops into my mind often. She gave my mother the motherly love that she'd never received from her own mother.

    I have a beautiful ring she gave me that I rarely take off and it's a little bit of a talisman to me.

    My parents came from two entirely different worlds, as you may have guessed.

  14. Congratulations, Lucy!

    I am so far from grandparenthood as my oldest is not yet 16. And swears up and down she is NEVER getting married and NEVER having children. Sigh.

    My grandmothers were both Grandma. Very traditional, very boring.

    My maternal grandmother was widowed early, her husband died in 1975 when I was just 2 and she would have been 53. She was opinionated, very conservative, and very patriotic (she hated the yellow ribbons because to her yellow was the color of cowards and Americans were not cowards). She'd argue with a tree stump. But she loved us all fiercely. She taught me how to make pie crust and she made baked goods from my grandfather's family (he was Croatian). Yes, you guessed it. No written recipes. My aunt tried to reverse engineer them, especially her nut roll, and come close - but not quite. She was a Navy nurse and loved to tell the story of being stationed in Philadelphia when my grandfather was sent there because he had pneumonia, she nursed him, they went on three dates and got engaged.

    My paternal grandmother was almost the complete opposite. She had lots of opinions, but never shared them unless pressed. You could tell when she was unhappy though. Her lips would press together so tightly it was as close to a line as I ever saw. She raised two boys and took no guff. My dad remembers coming home late and saying, "Oh Ma, I'm 18." She slapped him across the face and said, "That's what 18 gets you in this house." She worked at Bell making the P39(?) in Buffalo during WWII and was the "cafeteria lady" while my dad and uncle were in high school. Whenever one of us kids was "sick" at school, the school nurse would call Grandma and we'd go to her house for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. And we'd watch her soaps - General Hospital, All My Children, One Life to Live. Do NOT interfere with Grandma's stories! She let us make play dough and take it to the upstairs bedroom, and never minded the mess. She grew up in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania and loved to go on long car rides on the weekends. Just fill up the gas tank and see where we ended up.

    We always thought she would be the last grandparent to die; she was the first, in 2001. I miss her. Lucy, my pen name is also a nod to her (Liz Milliron, which was her maiden name) and my middle name is also a tribute (Elizabeth, although her given name was Betty). I do have a lovely picture of her with my daughter, though.

  15. This is making me feel as if I should do something memorable--so someday, 50 years from now,Josh and Eli will have a story. Eli is immortalized as the cool kid who lives upstairs from Jane Ryland, and he knows that.

    Maybe they'll remember that they taught me how to play Pokemon cards. Or let them have chocolate Cocoapuffs. Somehow, I dunno. that doesn't seem like enough. :-)

  16. Oh, I forgot! Grandma L. let us eat "cool" cereal like Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms - all the stuff my mother refused to buy.

    So Hank - that cereal may indeed be memorable. =)

  17. Congratulations all you grandmothers, new, old, and to be. It's a great state of being.

    I knew only my maternal grandmother, whom I called Grandma. Her name was Sadie Belle, and my children called her Grandma Sadie Belle, best name ever. She was remarkable, a former school teacher who married a barber and raised five children in a house with no indoor plumbing, water coming from a well shared with a neighbor. I adored her. She died at 88, and I still think of stuff I want to tell her.

    I have six grandchildren plus one. That one, now a lovely young woman of 28 (!), was the daughter of my eldest son's first wife. Tonya was 3 when she came into my life, and since her mother was from the West Indies, she was instructed to call me Grandmommie. That stuck long after Tonya was removed by virtue of divorce and distance sigh. I still adore her and she calls me a couple of times a year, always on Mother's Day.

    The next six, who range in age from 4 t5o 25 all call me Grandmommie too. A few years ago I suggested to Zachary, the oldest, that perhaps it was too babyish for him now that he was grown. I might as well suggested cutting off a testicle. He said he loved the name and would never call me anything else.

    And now his new wife calls me Grandmommie too. Choose your name carefully. It can't be changed. Ever.

  18. Mary, I don't think your grandmothers sound boring at all!

    I never knew my grandmother's mother. By my grandmother's accounts, her mom was a hard, mean woman, a real tartar who didn't like any of her seven (I think) children and found novel ways to punish them. My grandmother was fair-skinned and freckled easily, and she always forgot to wear her sun bonnet when playing outside--or took it off and left it somewhere. So her mother took to sewing it under her chin every morning, as tight as she could get it. You can imagine that my Nanny could never after stand to have anything fastened under her chin...

    And how did my Nanny turn out to be such a sweetie? Her sisters were a bit odd, I must say.

  19. Debs - sorry, I didn't mean the women themselves were boring, but I just called them "grandma," which is a bit traditional and boring (meaning no intriguing names).

  20. Lucy, August is a big month for me, too! My daughter is having our first grandbaby, a girl named Emma.

    Now if we can just get her to move back from Texas to south Florida.

    I'm hoping to be Nana (she was a good dog in Peter Pan, don't you think?) and my husband is aiming for PapaRick. But children come up with whatever they want, don't they?

    I thought it was a great touch that in Downton Abbey that the Lord was "Donk" to his granddaughter, from playing pin the tail on the donkey.

  21. Oh, Kaye, your grandmother must have been quite a pistol. Sounds like writing grist to me.

    I loved all five of my grandparents, but it was a real challenge to feel that way about my dad's mother. She was mean as a snake, never said anything nice about anyone (including to one's face), and she was tacky as hell, to boot. The particular grandmother is one of the reasons I have such a sour opinion of organized religion, too. She was the consummate church lady bon Sunday mornings, but once the hat and gloves came off, the gossip and backbiting began for the week. She was such a hypocrite.

  22. Ah, grandparents. One of the things that I most wish I'd had growing up. Both sets of grandparents were already dead by the time I was born in 1954, but then, my mother was 43 and my father 52 when I, their last child, arrived. I know I would have loved having grandparents. Of course, what was also different for me was having older parents, who were old enough to be my grandparents. At times, it caused my little child heart much concern that my parents were older and might be old enough to die while I was growing up. Of course, now I realize that age is no guarantee either way, but it was a worry then. My father ended up living until he was 96 (I was 42) and my mother died two years before at 84 (I was 40), so I was fortunate to have them for so long. They got to see my kids, who were 10 and 7, and then 12 and 9, and I was so grateful for that, although we lived too far away for a lot of involvement.

    I think my lack of the grandparent experience made me determined that my children have a good relationship with my husband's parents, who live within a mile of us. Before my father-in-law died, he was my son's #1 fan, and my mother-in-law, who is still going strong at 88, has a special bond with my daughter. Although this grandmother is not as warm a person as I would have liked, she has been good to my kids and fair with all her grandchildren. My own mother was warmer and more affectionate. In fact, I come from a family of huggers, which is a bit foreign to my husband's family.

    But, then, comes the best part of life. Becoming a grandmother is such a joyful, exciting phase for me. I get to be the grandmother I always wanted and have the fun of being with my amazing granddaughters, without the constant responsibility of parenthood, not that I didn't enjoy that, too. Every Wednesday, with few exceptions, I drive an hour to my six-year-old granddaughter's school and pick her up from kindergarten. I don't exaggerate when I say that when she comes out the door into my arms, because we have to hug when we see each other, it's a moment of pure joy each and every time. It never gets routine. It's always special. Seeing little pieces of me in her, too, like her passion with reading, makes my heart soar. Her fascination with the world is my fascination with her. My fifteen-year-old granddaughter came to me through other family genes, she is my son-in-law's niece, but I am crazy about her, too, and we've been a part of one another's lives since she was in first grade. She had a hard life before coming to my daughter's home, and I am fiercely dedicated to being an additional safe haven and loving presence in her life. We are great companions. Oh, and I'm called Grammy.

    Lucy, I'm so excited that you will soon be a grandmother. As Karen stated, unconditional love! Debs, I love Nanagram, and, Ann, I wish I'd thought of Grandmommie.

  23. All such great stories, even the ones where the grandmothers weren't perfect. Libby, congratulations on your new grandchild to come too! Hank, I don't think you have to do anything other then spend time with those kids and be your own brand of character LOL

  24. Momma
    She would have been 90 today.
    We would have loved that, but she wouldn't have. She liked being a young grandma to her babies.
    She had the talent to make each one of us know we were someone special.
    She made us laugh! She encouraged us to dream big and supported our goals in small but significant ways.
    In losing her, we gained a piece of her always carried in our hearts, a song on our lips, a glimpse of her in nature.
    We were truly gifted with her love.

  25. I'm in California this week, so very late to the game. I loved my grandmothers, who, like many who have been mentioned, died when I was young. But I still feel their love and delight in me. I am "Grammie" and we are expecting our #6 grandchild in September. I totally love it, and have been much more involved for the past several weeks since a baby was born to my daughter Amy, who has two older girls. I have been there almost daily.

    Which may explain why I am so enjoying this vacation weeks.

    Here are some cute Grandma names I know -- "Nonnie" (for someone named Connie) and "Lola" for a glamour grandma --

    We had a discussion the other night with our granddaughters who call their other grandfather "Gaga" -- (my husband is "Papi") -- we all determined that the girls are old enough to switch to the name he first requested (and which got mangled by the oldest grandchild) -- Granddad.

  26. Loved this posting, Roberta, and so delighted to hear you'll be a new grandma - one of life's great joys. You are going to be such a COOL grandmother! Living in Key West, writing mystery stories - cool, cool, cool.
    I had just one beautiful Nana left - Mary Agnes Burke O'Leary. She left a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) area in the mountains of Connemara by herself when she was just eighteen, and worked in the rectory at Saint Mary's in Charlestown, MA. before marrying my grandfather. When he died later, leaving her with five children under the age of twelve and a house, she somehow managed to keep the house and raise her family by working as a cleaning lady at the courthouse. I still remember as a child looking out the window of her upstairs pantry to see her, with a great mass of white hair wrapped in a kerchief, cutting asparagus in her garden for my breakfast of asparagus on toast - and later sitting under my grandfather's pear tree in her little yard, with several grandchildren around.
    Mary Agnes (of course, I have a character named Mary Agnes in my book) lived with us toward the end of her life. She and I shared a little 45 rpm record player and would sit together taking turns - I might play "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" by Pattie Page and she might play "The Last Rose of Summer" by John Francis McCormack.
    Keep us posted on this great new event in your life, Roberta!