Saturday, February 13, 2010


When we were young, we had some 'fun' names for our grandparents. My brother, since he was the oldest and also the first to talk, named all four of our grandparents. Then, when my sister was a bit older and able to speak, she renamed our paternal grandmother. Our grandparents doted on us. We were our paternal grandparents' only grandchildren, since my dad was an only child. The sun basically rose and set on us. My mom's parents were pretty busy raising a child of their own. My aunt was a huge surprise to them. She was born shortly after my parents were married, and is 2 years older than my brother and 3 years older than I am. However, they still doted on us and we had a wonderful relationship with all 4 grandparents.

My brother named our paternal grandparents Grandma and Dugga. Dugga was the best! He would come over every Saturday morning and play with us and watch cartoons with us. When we went to their house to visit, we would have 'parties' in their kitchen. We'd sit on the floor and eat ice cream. We would go on vacation with Dugga and Grandma. We'd all pile into our stationwagon in the 'night morning' (the term Dugga came up with when it was so early that it was still dark.) They dosed me up with Dramamine and stuck me in the way back with a bucket, blanket and pillow, so that I didn't hurl the entire trip. Grandma would have bags of snacks and a container of ice cold water that she kept between her legs the entire trip to the beach. We would get in trouble because we would want a drink of water as soon as we picked them up in the night morning. hehe She would say, "Why sure!" and then my parents would tell us "NO WAY!" LOL

Christmas Eve was a magical time. We'd go over to Dugga and Grandma's house. Grandma would have a roast cooking and a huge plate of cookies that she got from the bakery. The would be stacks of presents in every corner of their living room. Once the presents were opened, Dugga would disappear to his bedroom and come out with things hidden behind his back. He would make a grand announcement...This is for.......Dawn! This one's for.....Sam! Purely Magic! Then, we'd all head to church (Dugga, my family and I would head down to 'our' church Westminster Presbyterian) and my grandmother would head across the street to the Catholic Church. Afterward, we'd visit for awhile longer, then pack up the stationwagon and head home to wait for Santa's arrival.

On Christmas morning, Dugga would get up and come over to watch us unwrap our gifts from Santa. Mom would put the turkey in the oven and later, Dugga and Grandma would come over together to have dinner with us. Sometimes PapPap and Momal would also have dinner with us, depending on whether they were going to my uncle's or not.

Once my sweet sister was born and was able to talk, Grandma's name changed. She became Mimi. Looking back, the name was more appropriate for our Mimi since it just oozes love. So, we had Dugga and Mimi and PapPap and Momal.

In August 1976, Dugga died of cancer. It was the worse day of our young lives. I remember being at PapPap and Momal's house. Our parents were at the hospital with Mimi and Dugga. The phone rang and then Momal came in and gently told us that Dugga was gone. We kicked and screamed and were just wrought with emotion. My grandparents let us get it out, then they comforted us the best that they could.

PapPap and Momal......What a wonderful couple! PapPap was a giant in my eyes. He was a gentle giant, though. How I loved that man! I can still see his smile and see his huge hands. I felt safe at their house. Momal was a very classy woman. I don't remember ever seeing her in slacks, except for when she was cleaning the house. She always wore skirts or dresses and pantyhose and heels. Always. I spent a LOT of time at their house because my aunt Pam and I were the best of friends. Momal would bake wonderful goodies. She made the best homemade noodles I've ever had. The best!

PapPap was a principal. He started out being a teacher/principal at a one room schoolhouse in a small town. Once the school and town grew, he became the principal. He was married before to a woman who was in an accident and she passed away, leaving him with 2 small children. He met Momal and they got married and she had an instant family. He was 11 years her senior. They were in love until the day he died.

Momal grew up in a large family. During the depression, she was forced to quit school at 14 to work at the pottery to help support her family. When I hear the story from my mom, it just makes me angry, considering she had older brothers who were able to stay in school. She lived the rest of her life thinking she was ignorant and dumb because she didn't finish school. However, she was one of the sharpest, most classy women I've met in my lifetime. There wasn't an ignorant bone in her body.

Fast forward to 1985 when The Man asked me to marry him. PapPap looked at me with his sweet smile and said, "So, you're going to marry a man in the Navy!" He was so proud. Unfortunately, he was ill and in the hospital the day we got married and he couldn't be there for the wedding. Mimi and Momal walked down the aisle to their seats together, holding hands. We went to the hospital to see PapPap in our wedding attire, The Man wore his Navy blues and I wore my wedding gown.

In December 1988, PapPap passed away. Another sad day in our lives. Momal and Mimi became best friends and since Mimi didn't drive, Momal would take her everywhere.

In 1990, The Boy was born. He was the first grandchild in the family and the first great grandchild for my grandmothers. Everyone doted on that baby. We lived far from family, but every time my parents, or The Man's parents had a chance, they would come down to visit to 'see The Boy.' Suddenly, The Man and I became obsolete. LOL

In 1991, The Man went on another 6 month deployment (his third since we were married in '86.) I didn't want to stay 500 miles away from my family with a small baby without support. So, since we were supposed to move to Wisconsin after the deployment, we put our things in storage and The Boy and I moved back home to WV. The Boy grew and thrived. My grandmothers doted on him, The Man's grandparents doted on him, The Boy's grandparents doted on him.

The Boy would pull himself up by the staircase and yell "DAD!" when my dad when upstairs. We would correct him and say, "That is GRAND dad. Daddy is away!" We didn't want him to get confused. So, my dad's name became 'Did Dad'. My mom was still just Grandma because The Boy didn't talk much...well, he talked, but it was pretty much just gibberish at that point. Once The Boy honed his speaking skills, my mom became 'Gumba' and that morphed into Gumbunk. She is still Gumbunk. She will probably be Gumbunk to The Boy's children, if Lord willing, The Boy has children...many years from now!

Times change, years rush on, all of our grandparents and my father are now in Heaven. We have our memories, which are wonderful. The Man and I still talk and laugh about the things The Boy said and did. We remember with fondness my father and our grandparents. We tell stories and laugh and sometimes cry. We know that we wouldn't be who we are without the people and experiences in our lives.


tammy said...

What sweet memories to share!! Made me think of my own grandparents and great grandparents.

Marjorie said...

It's hard to type through these tears! Love you, Sis!

Sam A. said...

Very nice Dawn. It was actually 1977 when Dugga died. He had run for Magistrate in 1976. Great memories of all of them. They were wonderful grandparents.

Remember eating dinner at Momal and PapPap's with Pam, and audio taping the while we ate? I bet those are pretty scary to listen to, if any still exist! I can still taste Momal's noodles. There were none better.

Dawn said...

Sam, as I was washing dishes tonight, I realized I got the year wrong on Dugga's death. I know I was 10, that's why I was thinking '76. And, yes, I remember tape recording dinners at Momal and PapPap's with Pam. :) Love you, Sammy! you too!

Jody Pugh McSwegin said...

Dawn what a beautiful post. It had brought back many memories of my grandmothers. And also memories of our families getting together.Miss and love you Dawndi.

Dawn said...

Jode...I also remember our families getting together. You and I would pretend to have cocktails. I'd always drink what my dad was drinking, a "Roman Coke"...I later realized it was called a rum and coke. LOL

We had some good times, didn't we? Love you too!