I’m Going to Be a Grandmother — Or Will I Be a Grannie? A Grandma? A Nana?

My Grandma Falconer at age 97 with pearls, up-do and 19th century-pince-nez.

My father’s mother, born in 1876, was known as Grandma Falconer. Here she is with up-do, pearls and 19th century pince-nez.

My mother's mother, born in 1896 and glamorous, went in for furs, lipstick and sassy headgear. Everyone in town called her Toto. Photo by DG Falconer

My mother’s mother, born twenty years later and glamorous, went in for furs, lipstick and sassy headgear. Everyone in Pentwater, Michigan, called her Toto. Photo by DB Falconer


By Barbara Falconer Newhall

Help! My son Peter and his wife are about to transform Jon and me into grandparents.

What shall I call myself? Something tried and true like Grandma, Grannie, Nana, or Grandmother Newhall? Or should I revive one of my childhood nicknames — Bobbie or Fanny? Or just call myself B, which is how I sign my emails these days?

And — how do I work around the preferences of the other grandmothers(s), present and future, in the family?

Email me your stories and suggestions or put them in the comment box, and I’ll write up a post next week — unless, of course, grandbaby Newhall gets born between now and then, in which case all bets are off.

1943 summer Nana Georgie Morrison & Barbara Ann Falconer. Photo by DG Falconer

That’s me with my great-grandmother, who was known to one and all as Nana. Can I follow in her footsteps? Photo by DB Falconer




  1. Jean MacGillis says:

    Hi Barb!
    Beautiful pictures! I love Grandma Falconer’s hair with the waves. Brother Bobby gave our grandmother the name Toto because he could not say Grandma. Most people called her Toto, but some her own age called her Gige–not sure how to spell that. Also Flossy or Florence, of course.

  2. Ann Buchanan Teixeira says:

    I have a friend who chose Fleur — forget all that ‘grandma’ stuff! And her grandchildren call their grandfather ‘Big Poppy’. My oldest nephew’s son dubbed his grandfather ‘ba ba’ so that’s what he is to everyone now.

  3. Hi Barbara, You look so much like your grandmother Toto!!
    We’ve also just gone through the ‘process’ of choosing grandparent names! Unreal! Our little granddaughter just turned 4 months old.

    Congratulations to your whole family. A new adventure begins!

  4. One of the wisest things my daughter-in-law ever did (and she’s done a lot) was to ask me what I wanted to be called when I became a grandmother. I thought and thought and decided on Nonni. This was well in advance of any babies appearing. Because I claimed that name, the other sets of grandparents (there’s two) are both plain ole grandma and grandpa. Nothing wrong with that, to be sure! But I like having a special and specific name. So I do recommend you come up with something that you like. And congratulations–being a grandparent is amazing!

  5. Hello Barbara,
    My 3 sons have produced 5.4 grandchildren in the past 7 years (!) How did this happen?
    My first grandson came up with my name all by himself (Ahma). So that’s what it is.
    You continue to inspire me.

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