Enjoy GRAND Magazine

for grandparents & those who love them


Becoming Mimi – How One Grandmom Got Her Name

By Lina Rehal

Before my first grandchild, Katie, was born, I spent a lot of time thinking about what she should call me. Grandma sounded too old. Grandmother was too formal. Nonna didn’t seem to fit.

Then, during one of our many pre-Katie conversations, my daughter Gina asked, “Do you want to be called Nana or Grammy?”

I was leaning toward Grammy, but hadn’t made a final decision.

“Keep in mind,” Gina reminded me. “Her other grandmother has several grandchildren who already call her Nana. Some of them also call their mother’s mom “Nana.” They refer to her as “Other Nana.”

I thought about my own grandmother. She took me shopping, bought me pretty dresses and taught me how to sew. Grammy was a good cook. I loved her chicken soup and veal cutlets. She spoiled me. I wanted to be that kind of grandparent.

At her baby shower, Gina presented me with a lovely photo album with “Grammy” etched on the cover. It was settled.

As soon as Katie began forming words, I tried to get her to say, “Grammy.” Eventually, she started saying “Nana”, but not to me.

I repeated the word over and over, pointing to myself. Nothing seemed to work. Even when I said, “I’ll give you money if you say Grammy.

“How come she can say Nana?” I would ask her mother.

“It’s an easier word for kids to form,” Gina would say. “She’ll get it.”

Katie added to her vocabulary, but not the word I wanted to hear. One day, she pointed to me and said something that sounded like “Minnie.” We laughed as she poked at my chest. I was wearing a Disney tee shirt and had been telling her about Mickey and Minnie Mouse. She was getting the Minnie connection, but not the Grammy one.

She said “Minnie” every time she saw me

“Oh great,” I said. “She thinks I’m Minnie Mouse.”

“Well, you are a character,” Gina said.

I kept trying to get her to call me Grammy. She just wasn’t buying it. One night Gina told me to really listen to her.

“Ma,” Gina said. “Sometimes, she is saying “Minnie”, but she also says “Mimi” when she is with you. She is saying two different names. I think she knows who Minnie Mouse is.”

“Then who is Mimi?” I asked.

“I guess it’s you,” Gina said.

All the thinking and decision making about what you want your grandchild to call you and then the kid picks a name for you herself and that’s who you become.

Katie decided. I am her “Mimi.”


GRANDMOTHER, LINA REHALLina Rehal is a freelance writer and author. Carousel Kisses is a collection of nostalgic stories and poems about growing up in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. Her book is available on Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions. You can email her at rehalcute@aol.com or visit her website at www.luvs2write.com .

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Only $ 6.95

A Special eBook for New and Expecting GRANDparents

My Grand Baby ebook cover