How Rose Evelyn Became GG

I had my story for you today (you will get it another Sunday), but such are plans of mice and men.

You see I promised to tell someone very dear to me the story of GG. The more I thought about the more I realized you might like this story too. But let me start with Evelyn.

She was born Rose Evelyn McDermit, though she went by Evelyn until 1967. A fiery red head of Irish immigrants. A dark red which she kept colored as a brunette even when she was in her eighth decade.

She married Bernerd E. Goodykoontz (yes Bernerd not Bernard). They had a daughter and three grandsons. When this story took place though the youngest, Jason was still five years in the future. Joe was 5 and Jeff was 3 years old.

One Sunday afternoon the two boys were deep in conversation on the back seat of a little red, two door Chevette. Dad driving and mom in the front passenger seat.

The family was on its way from Bellefontaine to Milford Center. They had just spent the afternoon visiting Evelyn and Bernerd.

It was this visit the spurred the delimma the boys were attempting to resolve. As Joe pointed out the boys had two grandmothers and two grandfather’s. There were tome when the boys were in deep discussion that this created confusion as to which set of grandparents they were talking about.

Not surprisingly this was a very serious problem, particularly for boys ages 3 and 5. It the entire trip for them to arrive at the solution.

The grandfathers were easy. Grandfather Combs was just over six feet tall and grandfather Goodykoontz was about six inches shorter. The solution was simple.

They would call grandfather Combs Big Pa and grandfather Goodykoontz Little Pa. Half of the problem solved in record time.

The grandmothers were not going to be as simple to separate though. They were both about five foot two inches. What were they to do? They long ride was almost over and the two boys had still not solved the problem.

Then just before they arrived home Joe had an idea. He had learned his letters and some words already. He realized that both grandmother and Goodykoontz started with the letter G.

Joe gave his idea to Jeff. Jeff did not know all his letters yet, but he trusted his brother and loved the idea. Working together they had solved the recognition problem with their grandparents. From now on they would be known as Big Pa, Little Pa, Grandma, and ….. GG.

Over the next forty years the names Big Pa and Little Pa faded. But GG took on a life of its own. People who did not know Evelyn had grandchildren knew her not as Evelyn, but as GG.

No one ever asked how she came to be called GG. When Jason was born Joe and Jeff made certain Jason knew who their grandmother Goodykoontz was.

Neighbors, co-workers, friends, relatives, even Evelyn’s own siblings all called her GG.

You see two little boys ages 3 and 5 just wanted a way to not be confused when the two of them talked between themselves about their grandparents. They never realized that what they decided together on the backseat of that little red car would have far reaching effects on people, some of whom they would never meet, for more than 40 years.

Your life is very much the same way. You just don’t realize it. There are people in this world who remember something about you from years ago. A kindness you did, or a way you made them feel. My grandmother has been gone ten years and my brother Jeff just seven months.

But Jason and I remember GG AND Jeff. More important than their names, we remember how they made us feel.

There is a John Wayne line in the movie The Cowboys that goes like this.

“It’s not how you’re buried that counts. It’s how they remember you.”

How will people remember you?


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