(as recalled by Jim
This may well have been
told about Henry Gerwing (1875-1952) and Susan Gerwing (nee
Wolsefeld), my grandparents, by others.
Many people called
them Vater and Mutter, even those who were not related.
The story goes that when Norbert, their first grandson, was
born, he could not say Grossvater or Grossmutter. He
just said Vater and Mutter. From that time on all the
grandchildren simply called them Vater and Mutter. The
name stuck and in our circle we still refer to them by those
My grandfather was a
pretty stubborn man. I recall him sitting in his big
chair, somewhat immobilized by the effects of diabetes, with a
curved pipe always dangling from his mouth. But in Lent
he gave up smoking, set the pipe down beside him, and waited
until Easter to light it up again.