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A Grandfather’s Name

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Mark McClellan, Reese Painter, Anne McClellan

NAMING A GRANDPARENT When Reese Painter was a toddler, she started to say ‘Podder’ for ‘Grandfather.’ The name stuck, and her grandfather, Mark McClellan, became Podder to his now five grandchildren. Reese’s late grandmother and Mark’s wife, Anne, went by ‘Annie’ to her grandchildren. 

Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen is a mother of four children under the age of 9.

As Father’s Day approaches, families are preparing to honor the special men in their lives, from dads to grandfathers and all the father figures in between.

In many families, the name grandchildren call their grandfather is more than just a title – it is a bond between a grandfather and his grandchildren. Whether it is traditional like "Granddad" or "Papa," or a playful nickname tailored to fit their unique personality or family lineage, there is no one like a grandfather. 

For one family, a grandfather of five earned his name when his oldest grandchild, Reese Painter, was a baby learning how to sound out words. She was learning to talk, attempting to call her grandfather by his name. 

Reese’s mom, Blair Painter, reflected on those humorous memories of the early days when her dad took on the unplanned-yet-perfect name that would stick around forever. 

When Blair's father, Mark McClellan, became a grandfather for the first time, he decided on his chosen grandfather-name. He decided he preferred a more traditional title and announced to the family he would like to be called "Grandfather."

“My dad was always traditional. He always wore a bow tie,” said mom, Blair. “I called my grandfather, his dad, ‘Grandfather,’ and when my dad became a grandfather, he wanted to follow in those footsteps.” 

Reese came along and instantly became the center of the family’s life. She was the first of the five grandchildren in the family. 

However, as fate would have it, as Reese kept trying to talk, she could not yet say “Grandfather.” Suddenly, one day out of the blue, she started saying Podder instead. It instantly stuck.

“So, my dad became known as 'Podder'," Blair said. “It just became his name, and he is such a Podder.”

Podder, and his late wife, Anne, are also grandparents to Reese’s siblings, Bridget and Reilly, and cousins, Nolan and Camille (who also call him Podder). Mark, or rather “Podder,” embraced his newfound title with pride. “What a grandchild chooses to name a grandparent is so much more meaningful than what the grandparent may have suggested,”  Mark said.

In the Painter household, family traditions run deep. Mark, a skilled craftsman, has left his mark on each generation by crafting handmade treasures. They are all crafted with the love of a grandfather, or a Podder, comparable to no one else in their lives.

From the baby cradle where each grandchild took their first sleep as babies to handcrafted bookshelves, trophy cases, and jewelry boxes, Mark’s special handiwork shows his love for his grandchildren.

And then there is the story of Annie, Blair's late mother, and how she chose her grandmother’s name, which did stick. Anne eschewed traditional "geriatric" titles in favor of the affectionate "Annie." Her grandkids affectionately called her Annie – Annie and Podder, a perfect pair. Though she may no longer be with them, her spirit lives on in the love and laughter shared as a mother and grandmother.

It's not just the Painters who have unique titles for their patriarchs. Other families have cute names for their beloved granddads. Each title carries its own story and significance, which becomes a great talking point over dinner or at gatherings.

The five Brown grandchildren call their grandfather, whose nickname is Timbo, “Grambo.” “My mom emailed her lifelong friend to say I was pregnant,” said Sarah Bailey, Timbo’s daughter. “She replied, ‘tell Grambo congrats!’ and that was it, no discussion was needed [on the name].” 

Grambo fits him like a glove and has become a big part of Timbo’s identity.

As Father's Day approaches, let us take a moment to celebrate the fathers and grandfathers who have shaped our lives with their love, guidance, and support. Whether they go by the name of "Grandad," "Podder," or something entirely different and made up by their own grandkids, their grandfather’s name is a unique fit.

So, here's to the dads and grandads and fatherly figures who teach their loved ones to ride bikes and tie shoes, who cheer from the sidelines and wipe away tears. Here’s to the fathers and grandfathers who share stories of days gone by and the wisdom gained through a lifetime of experiences. Here is to their special grandfather’s name – may it always be etched in their grandkids’ hearts. 

Happy Father’s Day.

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