By Jim CHASE
As I mentioned several weeks ago, my family has been waiting expectantly for our daughter and son-in-law to give birth to their first child, our fourth grandchild. The big event happened last week, and … it’s a girl! Welcome to the world and to our family, little Bailey Brooke Kuehn. It may seem impossible, but you are already loved and cherished even more than your arrival was awaited and anticipated. What a precious gift.
My wife’s and my other three grandkids have the good fortune to live in Hawaii. As non-native ‘haoles’, their family tries to incorporate both traditional and contemporary Hawaiian nomenclature into their everyday lives as possible. That means “family” is “ohana.” Driving across the island to go to the big city of Honolulu is going “to town,” a good friend is a “braddah” or “brah.” A good thing is “ono” and something wonderful is “onolicious.” It also means that my wife is not called “Grandma” by our island grandkids, but rather, “Tutu Wahine” or “Tutu” for short. That makes me “Kupuna Kane” or simply ‘‘Puna’ for short. I can say without much doubt that I am the only “Puna” living on my block here in La Crescenta.
What’s any of this got to do with our new granddaughter? Well, for one thing, she doesn’t live 5,000 miles across the ocean where they talk funny and wear flip flops to formal events. She lives considerably closer, in Santa Clarita. Okay, so they may still talk funny out there in the land of traffic signals, Hummers and take out dining, but I’m pretty sure our new grandchild won’t be calling me “Puna” or my wife “Tutu.” In fact, our daughter has already asked us the big question. Namely, “What do you want your new grandchild to call you?”
Good question. Grandfather is much too stuffy and staid for my liking. And Grandpa or Gramps is just not unique enough for someone in a creative business like I am. So, as I often do when involved in a writing project, I consulted various search engines to see what names for “grandfather” were in use today. Unfortunately, I’m more confused than ever. According to the internet, today’s grandfather can be translated to: G-pa, O.G. (for “Original Grandpa”), Papa, G-pop, Pappy, PappaDaddy, Pampo, Papps (which sounds too much like a medical test for me), Gampy, Gramps, Grampy, Granola, Old Man, the Old Guy, Grandpappy (I hear banjos pickin’ and moonshine jugs a-blowin’ with that one) Peepaw (not with my prostate, you don’t) Papadaddy (really?), Gumma (maybe when I’ve lost my teeth), Pops, Poppa, Poppops, Pop-Pop, Poppy, Popsie, (bowl of cereal, anyone?) Grandpadaddy, Big Paw, Paw Paw (fine for circus bears), Granddad, Big Daddy, Boom-pa (say what?), Bumpy, Boppa, Bompa, Chief, Captain, G, G-Daddy, Duke, and the ever-popular Buddy.
When you start globetrotting, the names for grandfathers begin to sound like characters in a Star Wars cantina scene. For example, the Chinese word for Grandfather is Yeh Yeh., in the Philippines it’s Lolo and in Germany, Opa. Then, there’s Bompa (Flemish), Grandpere (French), Papu (Greek), Saba (Hebrew), Nonno (Italian), Ojiisan (Japanese), Halabeoji (Korean), Dzia Dzia (Polish), Avo (Portuguese), Dedushka (Russian), Abuelo (Spanish), Zeidy (Yiddish), Ajja (India), Phar-Phar (Swedish), E-du-di (Cherokee), Gammlefar (Norwegian), and Seanathair (Irish).
When my own grandfathers were alive many years ago, we simply called them Grandpa Chase and Grandpa Irons. Looking back on those days, it seems uncomfortably formal that we used their last names. But at least we didn’t have to call them “sir” like I have heard some grandchildren call their grandfathers over the years. How sad.
To risk a cliché, when all is said and done, I don’t much care what my current or future grandkids call me, as long as they call – and often. That would be simply “onolicious.”
I’ll see you ‘round town.
Jim Chase is an award-winning advertising copywriter and lifetime CV resident. Find him online at www.wordchaser.com.