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Published: Sunday, 8/31/2008

Just call me Mee Maw; Grandparents don t always use the traditional names

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jim Lefevre, center, is surrounded by his grandchildren, clockwise from bottom left: Troy Lefevre, Jared Lefevre, Caitlin
Lefevre, Jamie Lefevre, and Emily Mitchell. The grandchildren call him  Grandpa Fuzzy  or simply  Fuzzy  because of his beard. Jim Lefevre, center, is surrounded by his grandchildren, clockwise from bottom left: Troy Lefevre, Jared Lefevre, Caitlin Lefevre, Jamie Lefevre, and Emily Mitchell. The grandchildren call him Grandpa Fuzzy or simply Fuzzy because of his beard.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Judy Sikorski got into big trouble when, in a lighthearted moment many years ago, she called her beloved grandmother Gramcracker.

My mother overheard it and immediately let me have it for being so disrespectful to my grandmother. I never made that mistake again, recalls Mrs. Sikorski of Rossford, who is now a grandmother herself.

Maybe Mrs. Sikorski was just ahead of her time. Christine Smallman s grandchildren call her Gramcracker because she asked them to.

I chose that name because that is the snack I remember receiving as a child, and I wanted something different that would be connected to childhood memories, explains Mrs. Smallman of Delta.

Bob and Alice LaFleche s license plate combines their nicknames,  Pep  and  Mem. Bob and Alice LaFleche s license plate combines their nicknames, Pep and Mem.
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She and Mrs. Sikorski were among dozens of readers who responded when The Blade asked grandparents what names they had chosen for themselves, or that their grandchildren had chosen for them. Thanks to all who responded and best wishes for a happy Grandparents Day next Sunday.

We heard from Mee Maw and Gummy and She-She; Fuzzy, Boogie, and Minuma; Geegee, Beba, Bushie, and Mimi; Choo-Choo, Grammy, Grandmere, and MomMom; Oma and Opa; Mem and Pep; Zsa-Zsa, Bob, Lady, and Honey. Even Granny.

There were numerous Papas and Nanas, but Nana Becker of Petersburg, Mich. Nana is her given name says she s always been called Grammy, Gram, or Grandma.

There are lots of other traditionalists out there, among them Greg and Brenda Lonsway of Fostoria. We love being called Grandma and Grandpa, Mr. Lonsway says via e-mail.

And some, like Sharrone Clay of West Toledo whose grandchildren sometimes call her Grandma Zoom or Gma Zoom because she started to ride a motorcycle about seven years ago wrote that, I ve come to realize that it really isn t important what they call me as long as it s done with love and respect.

Marta Schroeder of Curtice, Ohio, says she hadn t considered any special names when she and her husband, Marty, learned they were going to be grandparents. But her daughter thought Grandma and Grandpa were too generic; she wanted something that would fit their personalities.

Mrs. Schroeder says she jumped on her daughter s suggestion of Mimi because it sounded fun and happy. And today Mr. Schroeder is Papa-O, reflecting the University of Tennessee fan s fondness for orange clothing.

If both these names stick, that will be great but you know children, she writes in an e-mail. Mrs. Schroeder is OK with any change the kids come up with, because having the status of being grandparents is awesome enough.

Paulette Kwiatkowski of Maumee wanted her grandchildren to call her Busia (grandmother in Polish) to honor her heritage and her own dear Busias.

I practiced and practiced with them, but Busia came on Beba. The name stuck and I ve been Beba ever since, she says. Even my kids call me Beba now... even my co-workers.

Janice Green of Sylvania Township had a similar experience. She, too, wanted her granddaughter to call her Busia, but the little girl started calling her Bus at first, then Bushie. That s just fine with Mrs. Green: I love hearing my granddaughter say Bushie. It truly is a badge of honor.

Loretta Summers of Sylvania is now Minuma to everyone in the family, thanks to granddaughter Anastassia Gresko of Holland, Ohio, now 14, who couldn t pronounce Grandma. Mrs. Summers cherishes the name, because it came from Anastassia s heart.

Grandma became MeMa for Janet Pancone of Maumee; Memaw for Barbara Hilbert of Millbury, Ohio; and GeGa for Kim Zuver of Swanton. Grandma and Grandpa came out Mommo and Poppo for the Dubielaks of Tiffin. That is what all of our grandchildren call us now and even some of their parents, Marilyn Dubielak writes.

Linda Nowak of Temperance wanted to be called Grammy, but the first grandchild pronounced it Geegee, and that was that. She considers it a special bond with her grandchildren. I am their only Geegee even though they do have other grandmas, she points out.

Grammy was Susan Grombacher s preference when her first grandson was born, but when he was able to talk it came out Lady. The West Toledoan observes that it s awkward only when grandsons call out Lady when they re shopping with her. People turn and look and wonder just who I am.

Try as she might, Colis Hudgins of South Toledo couldn t get her granddaughter to call her Grammy. She d shake her head and say Mimi, Ms. Hudgins recalls. The only thing we could figure out was that when I d walk into her house, I would clap my hands and I d say come to me. . Mimi she became, and still is to all of her grandchildren.

Lin Okuley of West Toledo also was leaning toward being Grammy, but a friend advised her that her grandson, Lucas Schimmel, probably would decide on a name for her himself.

He did: Luke christened me Choo-Choo, she reports, because she used to whisper choo-choo as she held him in her lap watching Thomas the Tank Engine on television.

Where s my boogie-boog? Pat Munkacy of South Toledo used to call when she visited her grandson Isaac Whitten, now 4. One day, Isaac s mom asked him who was behind the door. Boogie, Isaac replied.

I became Boogie. One in a million, and I love it, Mrs. Munkacy declares.

That goes for Gumper, too. That s what the grandchildren call Dan Lillycropp of Perrysburg, says his wife, Carol Olms.

Mr. Lillycropp had chosen the name Gump, based not on the movie Forrest Gump but on someone he knew by that name when he was growing up in a small town in Ontario. The kids turned Gump into Gumper.

Jim Lefevre of West Toledo became Grandpa Fuzzy and now sometimes just Fuzzy for an obvious reason. I have had a beard since before any of my grandchildren were born, he explains.

Some grandparents choose a name based on their heritage. Tom and Ruth Mossing of West Toledo are called by the German Oma and Opa. Jacque Lease of Fremont, who was teaching French when her grandchildren began arriving, is Grandmere.

Johey Crawford of Oregon says her first grandchild couldn t say Abuela (Spanish for grandmother). He pronounced it Abo, who evolved into Bob, a name that to her delight was picked up by all six grandchildren. They all have more than one grandmother, but only one Bob, she says via e-mail.

Bob and Alice LaFleche of South Toledo chose the French Memere and Pepere, which their grandchildren shortened to Mem and Pep. The LaFleches use pepnmem for their e-mail address and license plate.

Some grandparents say they don t quite know where their special names came from. In that category are Carol and Bill Clark of Holland, Ohio, who are MomMom and Bop. Carol Boden of LaSalle, Mich., says she s called Gummy maybe a combination of Grandma and Mommy but has no idea why one granddaughter calls Randy, her husband, by the name Burrpa.

Likewise, Carol Powell of Sylvania says her toddler granddaughter has started calling her Carol and her husband, Ray, Baba. They don t know where Baba came from, she says.

Sometimes the kids who coined the names don t know. Nicole Meyers of Whitehouse can t explain the origins of the name Gap for her grandfather, Ted Meyers of Maumee.

It s just what I made up, she says. Now all of my cousins and all my friends call him Gap.

And what about Judy Sikorski, the Rossford woman who got in trouble as a child for once calling her grandmother Gramcracker? Mrs. Sikorski is called Tootsie by her granddaughters, a name that they began using because Mrs. Sikorski used to sing Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye when she rocked them as babies.

I love it because it reminds me of the days when they were infants and how precious those memories are and how quickly they pass by, she says.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.comor 419-724-6126.



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