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Unusual names for grandparents

Why can’t we choose unusual names?

By Jocelyn Watts

“Mimoo? Serves you right,” said Great-Grandma as she peered over her glasses in her familiar school ma’am look of disapproval.

Serves me right? Bollocks. How many other grandmothers are known as Mimoo? Not many, I suspect, and that’s the way I like it.

Aside from Mimoo being easy for kids to say, the name has a certain ring to it that raises eyebrows and starts conversations. 

Today it seems I’m on trend. Seems it’s cool for parents to create new names for their newborns, so why can’t we of the ‘sandwich generation’ create new grandparent names for ourselves?

People are living longer and mixed families are more common so it’s becoming normal for children to have multiple nannies, nannas, grandmas, grandpas, granddads and grandpops. That must be so confusing for littlies.

I had just four living grandparents – two maternal and two paternal. They were Granny and Grandpop, Nanna and Granddad.  My three children also had four – Grandma and Grandpa, Nanny and Granddad.

The previous generation had all died in their 70s before my children were born. My grandchildren, however, have many family members happily kicking on through their 80s.

There’s Great-Grandma, Great-Nanny, Great-Granddad, Great-Poppy and two Great-Nannas plus the Grand generation of Nanna and Poppy, and me. Granddad was still alive when our first two grandkids were born.

While waiting for the birth of her first bub (the first grandchild on both sides), my daughter asked me what I’d like to be called.

I loved my Granny dearly but I wasn’t old enough to be a Granny! Nanna or Nanny somehow sounded younger and softer but with so many of those names already in the family, I wanted something different and easy for the kids to identify me from the others. 

Google offered many options. Here are some:

Initially, I said, “Whatever the first grandchild calls me as he/she starts to talk, will be my name.” 

That left the field too wide open! What if the name was something like Bluegrass Tree, which my youngest son named one of his pet birds?

After much reflection I settled on Mimi, a Hebrew baby name meaning wished-for child or rebellion. But that wasn’t the reason I chose Mimi. I simply thought it sounded good and didn’t relate to a specific age group.

However, when my daughter’s first-born uttered his first words, he spotted a photo of me, pointed, smiled and said: “Mimooooo!”

 “That’s it!” my daughter declared.

Like composted cow dung in a garden bed, my first grandchild’s chosen name has stuck and it’s serving me well! Thank you, Bradley.  

Do you have unusual grandparent names in your family? If so, please share. I’d love to know what other names are about.

Love sparkles after 60 years

IF THERE is a short-cut to happiness, Len and Shirley Shaw of Maryborough found it when they met at a dance more than half a century ago.

Diamond anniversary

Len and Shirley Shaw celebrate their Diamond wedding anniversary.

One dance – the Twilight Waltz – was all it took to set the scene for 60 years of marriage that produced three daughters, 15 grandchildren and by the end of this year, 18 great-grandchildren.

Len and Shirley were married at St Paul’s Church of England (now Anglican Church) in Maryborough on June 16, 1956.

Celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary at B & B On Sunrise in Tinana on June 18, the couple agreed their secret to a long marriage was simply to “be happy”.

“We don’t have any arguments,” Len said. “If it looks like there’s an argument brewing, I go down to the dam and come back an hour later.”

Shirley (nee Birt) said: “I watch The Bold and the Beautiful on TV. He hates that so I watch it and he goes outside.”

Their recipe for compatibility works for them.

“It’s been easy sailing,” Shirley said. “We’ve had ordinary life, nothing special really. We’ve only been on one trip, a Fairstar cruise. Otherwise, we’ve just worked and raised the kids.”

However, the glint in Len’s eyes and Shirley’s cheeky smile suggests their story is anything but ordinary.

“Len had an AJS motorbike that we often rode to Hervey Bay,” Shirley continues.

“In those days you never wore a helmet. We were coming home from Gympie one night and we were just outside Tiaro.

“I’m on the back asleep on his shoulder and we woke to the sound of gravel scratching the bike as we were headed for the bush.

“Luckily we woke up in time. We were both asleep with no helmets on and we survived.”

Len, a typical Aussie larrikin, was sacked from his first job at Reid’s Bacon Factory after an altercation with his boss.

“It end up that he had a rowing team and he wanted another man so I rowed in his crew. There was no animosity,” he said.

Len grew up in Maryborough’s flood area of the Pocket, the son of a blacksmith whose shop was located opposite the Carlton Hotel on the east side of Bazaar Street.

“I used to ride a horse to drive the cows down every morning before school and bring them back past Reid’s Bacon Factory in the afternoon to do the milking.

Diamond Anniversary

Son-in-law Jeffrey Cunningham shares highlights of Len & Shirley’s 60 years together.

“One day the boss’s son pulled me up and asked if I wanted a job. I was only 13 so my old man rang the headmaster to see if I could leave school.”

Len laughs: “The headmaster said ‘For Christ sake, take him the hell out of here!'”

That was the first of many jobs from the bacon factory to sugar and meat factories, driving trucks and owning a bread run. He was even Hervey Bay’s first Mr Whippy!

“I was Mr Whippy when it first came to town,” Len said. “I had the Hervey Bay run and I’d pull up and there’d be kids coming from everywhere.

“I also sold insurance for three months but hated it – if you couldn’t eat it I didn’t want to sell it!”

Len said: “We were never rich with money but we felt rich having such a beautiful family.”

Most of them were among the 50 people who gathered to celebrate Len and Shirley’s special milestone.

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