The Vanishing Grandmother

Grandmothers are disappearing at an alarming rate. Statistically this shouldn't be happening. With the baby boomer generation now reaching their sixth decade, women of the right age are everywhere.

Along with grandmothers other things are missing, too. Cookie jars are going empty. Home-baked birthday cakes are few and far between. The type of grandmother who once baked cookies and cakes is getting harder and harder to find. I think my grandmother would have said they're becoming as scarce as "hen's teeth".

Today's youngsters are greeted by a different kind of grandmother. This modern version has never let the little tykes call her 'Grandmother'. She also will not answer to 'Grandma' or 'Mamaw'.

The grandmothers of today often introduce themselves as 'Mimi' or 'Honey' or 'Foxy'. Others might be known as 'Gigi' or 'Babe'. Some prefer that the child call them by their given name.

The fashionable names have a cute ring to them. There's no harm in attaching a unique or different label to identify a grandmother. After all, even Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

My only concern with changing grandmother's name is that some are backing away from their traditional role in the family. Something that looks like an innocent name change on the surface may go much deeper.

In our youth-dominated culture a new grandmother may feel uncomfortable having others know she has entered that stage of life. Many of today's grandmothers have fought the aging process tooth and nail. She exercises at the gym, wears trendy clothes, and is on a first name basis with the local plastic surgeon. A woman like this has worked too hard to stay youthful to allow anyone to call her by an over-the-hill name. Instead, a name with no age association suits her better. This person won't be called 'Granny', and she might not be ready to accept the role, either.

One of the newspaper sections I read daily is the obituaries. This morning I came across the death notice for a 70-year-old woman. The tribute stated that she was known to many as "Granny Jones". She loved to prepare meals for friends and family. Among the survivors were four children and twelve grandchildren.

With the holiday season approaching, I thought of the hole her passing would leave in this family. Granny must have roasted countless turkeys and baked hundreds of pies over the years. Bless her heart. Now where will her family spend the holidays? Will someone step up to fill her shoes or will the family be gathered somewhere in a restaurant for the holiday meals this year?

Now that Granny is gone, is any relative willing to pull raw giblets from the depths of a turkey cavity? I fear the new model of grandmother might not. Is there anyone left who will find joy in spending a week cooking and baking so she can see her family sit down together for 15 minutes? How many of those grandmothers are left?

For those who are nearing the time when grandchildren will be born into your life, put some thought into what the little ones will call you. Maybe you'll choose one of the chic and trendy names for yourself. Perhaps you'll opt to stick with one of the more tried and true, but outdated titles. Whichever way you're leaning, think about your reasons for the selection. Are you making your choice to hide your age? Does your choice reflect how you feel about your role as grandmother?

No matter if your grandchildren call you Babe or Granny, I hope you're not as concerned about looking young as you are about looking after the young. Grandmothers make terrific role models. The kids don't care if your hair is turning gray or if your skin is getting saggy, but they know if you care about them.

So, how do you keep a grandmother from vanishing? A woman must be brave, put her hand in a turkey cavity, and find those raw giblets.



  1. Well said. So many of the old ways are disappearing.

    1. Thanks, Tammy. It makes me sad that some children miss out on so much.

  2. This is a wonderful write up! Unfortunately my children don't have the type of grandmother that I had growing up and I hate it! I have very traditional thoughts around parenting but the grandparenting (matriach) is missing what I'd hoped for for my little ones! You hit the nail on the head. Thank you and I thoroughly enjoyed.

    1. Thank you! I wish all children were fortunate enough to have a grandmother like mine was. Grandmothers who are not interested in their role are missing out, and the kids are, too.