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MACHO MADNESS The Man With No Name
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Last month I shared my dilemma of what I wanted my new granddaughter, Madeline, to call me when she begins to talk. I wasn't too worried, until my wife, Donnelle and I recently received a card from our daughter in the mail.

My daughter has a great sense of humor, especially when it comes to her dad. While I struggled with arriving at an appropriate name, Donnelle didn't miss a beat in coming up with 'Nana.' So Rachel addressed the card to Nana and 'TBD.'

To Be Determined.

I'm glad she gets me.

So last month, I asked for help from the readers of this column, and I appreciate all the responses. While all were excellent, I have to say the best suggestion came from Kathryn Lorenz of Oakdale.

"Craig, first off, congratulations on your new little granddaughter. I'm sure she will bring much joy into your life," Kathryn said in her email.

"As far as what she should call you ... if you have any Italian descent in your family why don't your grandkids call you Nonno (Italian for Grandpa)?"

I recalled my dad sometimes spoke of his grandfather emigrating from Italy, settling in a small town in Minnesota, where he eventually became the town constable. In fact, he became the first of a long line of my extended family to make a career in law enforcement. I continued reading Kathryn's email:

"We grew up calling our grandparents Nonno and Nonie and now we are Nonno and Nonie to our grandkids. Once our grandkids were born they called their great grandparents Biz Nonno and Biz Nonie, meaning great grandfather and great grandmother. So how come you can't be a Nonno? Can't you see yourself as a Nonno? Best wishes on your name search!"

Nonno. I liked the sound of it, and thought about how my dad goes by the name of 'Papa' to his grandchildren. Papa, of course, is Italian for father, and then I vaguely recalled a brief, long-ago conversation with my dad about him growing up in Minnesota.

He moved to California with his parents as a child, and only has faint memories of his grandfather. But it suddenly made sense to me.

If he heard his father, and his aunts and uncles call his grandfather 'Papa,' when he was a child, of course he would adopt that name as his own when he first became a grandfather, when my older sister had my niece 30 years ago. So my becoming Nonno would be perfect; kind of like coming full circle.

I called him, eager to share my theory.

No," he said, after letting me ramble on for a few minutes. "That's just how Julie (my oldest niece) pronounced it when she tried to say grandpa."


But I still liked Nonno. I called Rachel, telling her of the cool grandfather name I had discovered.

"Nonno? Uh, I don't know. But if you like it ... "

This would be Rachel-speak for "Are you kidding me?"

Hey, it wasn't my idea; blame Kathryn Lorenz of Oakdale, she was the one who thought of it.

(Sorry for throwing you under the bus, Kathryn, but we're talking grandkids here. I know you'll understand.)

I went back to the emails, discovering sometimes simpler is better:

"I pop in the Leader once in a while and look for your prose. Always enjoyed it.

"I too am enjoying this new season of life as a grandfather, my oldest son made me a young grandfather, he and his wife are enjoying parenthood in their young twenties ... How soon I forgot how busy toddlers can be... Good luck with the "grandpa" name ... me, I'm just Grandpa Bob."

Grandpa Craig. I rolled it around in my brain a little, enjoying the feel of it.

But I keep coming back to Nonno.

I called my son, Kevin, and ran it by him.

"I like it," he declared.

Kevin has always enjoyed being Italian, although I think he used it mostly as an excuse to hang the 'Goodfellas' poster in his room when he was a teenager. But, as he pointed out, he gets a vote in this, also.

"My kids are going to have to call you something," he reasoned.

It's funny, how Donnelle and I thought so much of our life had concluded when we became empty nesters a few years ago. People told us of the riches to come, but I guess you have to experience it for yourself.

So, Nonno, Grandpa Craig, or TBD, I haven't totally made up my mind yet. But I do appreciate everyone responding like they did (bus tire marks notwithstanding, Kathryn).

It's going to be a great adventure ...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.