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I remember my grandparents today.  While i only have one still living, i have memories of all four of my grandparents and most of my great-grandparents.

My grandparents all had very different “titles” so it wasn’t necessary to identify them any further, like “Gramma Jane” etc.  My father’s parents were Nana & Pop Pop.  My mother’s parents were Mimi & Mimpi.  My father’s grandparents were Gramma & Grampa and my mother’s grandparents were Grammie & Grampie.

My brother was the oldest grandchild on both my mother’s and my father’s side of the family so he was the one who determined everyone’s name based on his pronunciations.  Mimi was what happened when he tried to say “Grammie“.  “Mimpi” came from “Grampie” but first it was “Pee-Pee“.  There was considerable encouragement for him to do better than Pee-Pee and when Mimpi crossed his lips, everyone grabbed onto it!

My only real memory of my father’s father was his encouraging me to try what he was drinking as he was watching TV.  Just as my lips touched the mouth of the can, my father entered the room and told me to put it down.  When i left the room, as instructed, my father let Pop-Pop have it.  We left soon after.  As you probably already figured out, Pop-Pop was drinking beer.  I was not 5 years old at that time.

My memories of Nana are abundant and every one is filled with love.  While Nana only stood a mere 5 feet tall, the strength with which she hugged me would rival Superman!  And the kisses she would plant on my face were loud and deep.  When we would pull into her driveway it was a matter of seconds and she would appear at the front door, run across her screened-in porch, push open the door and run to the car, arms outstretched, as the porch door slammed behind her.  She would practically drag us out of the car she was so excited to see us!  And when we entered her house, the scrumptious smell was surpassed only by the delicious taste of the meal she had waiting for us!  Nana could cook!!!  Ham, potatoes, veggies, fresh bread, home-made apple pie and home-made pumpkin pie was what i remember most.  Nana’s smile was enormous and constant as we ate and laughed and visited.  This world needs more people like Nana.  Her life was one of strife and hurt at the hands of her husband, but instead of letting the efforts of one man destroy her, she chose to blanket herself with the love she had for her family.  The only time i ever saw Nana cry was when two of her son’s were arguing in front of her.  I met Nana’s mother a few times when she moved in with Nana.  She was from Poland and spoke 7 languages fluently yet refused to speak English.  My mother used to say, “No fischte, Gramma,” (i don’t understand, Gramma) constantly!  It was at this point that Gramma would grace us with a little English; “Stupid girl!”

Before we would leave Hawley, PA (where Nana lived) we would sometimes stop in Honesdale, a town about 15 miles away.  Here we would drive up a steep hill to the house where my father’s grandparents (Pop-Pop’s parents) lived.  The steep downward pitch of their driveway always frightened me as we drove down it.  The visits with Gramma & Grampa were generally brief but i remember the floral wallpaper in the livingroom and the chair that only Grampa sat in.  To visit with Gramma, we would be in the kitchen.  There was ALWAYS homemade cookies in the cookie jar.  As we would leave, Grampa would give my brother and I a dollar and turn to my father and make him promise to stop and get us ice cream on the way home.  My father’s love and respect for Grampa trumped his desire to go directly home.  Dad would never defy his grandfather’s wishes.  The three-hour drive was always shorter when we could stop for ice cream!

My mother’s parents lived only 15 miles from where we did.  While i don’t remember many times when they were at our house, i do have many memories of visiting them at their house.  They lived in a big stone house with a long, paved driveway...which was awesome because my mother’s younger brother and sister had go-carts and we would get to ride them when Aunt Susie or Uncle Bob was around.  Mimi & Mimpi also rode motorcycles so there was an occasional ride on the “bikes“...but only on the driveway!  I remember my mother and Mimi giving me a perm and my brother taking every opportunity to walk by me and hold his nose and wave his hand in front of his face.  I remember sitting on Mimpi’s lap while he would look at a statue of a dog and tell me what time it was.  I didn’t understand until many years later that the dog’s eyes moved around to display the time...one for minutes, the other for the hour.  Mimpi died of stomach cancer when i was 8.  My final memory of that house was of Mimpi’s casket in the living room and people coming to the house.  Mimi sold that house and moved in with us not too long after that.

My mother’s grandparents lived about a 45 minute ride from our house.  Mimi’s mother made THE BEST ginger snaps (huh, Heather?) and i never once saw her use a measuring cup or measuring spoon.  Sometimes, I would stand on the veranda off her living room and all i could see was a tangle of vines and greenery...it kind of freaked me out!  Mimi’s mother was a statuesque woman with a powerful voice and a stern look.  When Gramma VanAtta spoke, people paid attention!  It’s ironic the stark contrast between Mimi and her mother.

I don’t believe i ever met my mother’s grandfathers but have, of course, heard stories about them.  It’s so important to me to share with my children what i remember of my childhood and the people who were so important to me.  I believe that one day my children will tell their children and grandchildren about their family as i do.  My children are blessed with my husband’s parents right here in town.  “Nanny” & “Pop Pop” are at our beck and call and insist on it being this way.  My mother-in-law will call me anytime my husband is away to remind me to call them if they can do anything for us.  They have the cell phone numbers of all my children and call them every couple of days to ask if there is anything they can do for them.  All i have to do is ask, and i have it.

As unattractive as it may be, I have to be honest and say that i am jealous.  I am jealous that it is not my parents who are so important in my children’s lives.  I am jealous that my children have very few memories to share about my mother and now that my Dad has been gone for over 5 years, the memories they have of him will fade as they grow older.  Perhaps this is why it is so important to tell my children all i know about my family...without me, there might not be any memories for them to share one day and i can’t think of anything worse than being forgotten!



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cynthia Schmidt wrote Mar 20, 2009
    • What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing, Daphne. I especially love your Nana!

      As I was reading I looked out the window at our cottage to see if my stepdaughter’s car was there. I had an instant need to hug my grandaughter.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Mar 20, 2009
    • Thanks for sharing them with us, Daph!

      I have very few memories of any of my grandparents. I never met either of my grandfathers, and my paternal grandmother passed away when I was five. The relationship between my mother and her mother was strained for much of my childhood, so we didn’t see her frequently. She died when I was twelve.

      My son is the oldest grandchild, and he determined “Gramma” for my mom and “Beebaw” for my dad, which set the precedent for my brothers daughters.  

      Even now, at 18, Jonathan still calls my dad Beebaw. And he calls my brother Unca, too! estatic



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Shopgirl1960 wrote Mar 21, 2009
    • What a wonderful story you shared with us Daphne.

                    THANKYOU!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Daphne wrote Mar 21, 2009
    • I have to say, this blog was a pleasure to write.  I have so many memories of my grandparents and share the stories of them with my children whenever they will indulge me.  One day, i believe they will be hungry for the memories just as i am now.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Mar 21, 2009
    • I forgot to say that I never did make the ginger snaps you gave me the recipe for, but I still have it. Scott and Hailie share an affection for all things ginger, so they are definitely in our future, lol.



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