My paternal grandfather’s given name was Daniel but no one ever referred to him as Dan, Daniel or Danny.  Nope.  For his entire life, he was known only as “Happy”.  As a toddler I didn’t question names – I just hoped I could get the words out of my mouth.  So many in our family had complicated, multi-syllabic monikers that were tongue-twister tricky.  Thank goodness nicknames were the predominant family tradition.  We had “Butch”, “Gus”, “Loulou”, “Magpie”, “Myrtle” and “Slats” in the wackadoodle roster of kinfolk.  For some, I have no clue what their actual names were.

But Happy – my grandfather?  I don’t recall the moment but my dad said I asked him once, when I was just a tot, where Snow White and the other dwarfs were – if Grandpa’s name was “Happy”.  I must’ve figured Grumpy and Dopey were nearby – aliases for the aunts or uncles?

The only credible reasons I’ve found for Grandpa Daniel’s “Happy” nickname is that he was, as a young man, happy. All the time.  As a second-generation immigrant, he rejoiced in hard work and was a laborer at a rock quarry.  Whenever the opportunity presented, however, he was on a golf course. Whether it was Scottish roots or just his calling, he loved golf, as did my dad. 

I’m sharing two photos of Grandpa Happy that I adore. I wish my dad was still alive so I could pepper him with questions.  Photos are divine…but as I stare at the young Happy, I know his life unfolded to include incapacitating grief.  That’s when I knew him, after Grandma Lily passed away.  The name “Happy” didn’t fit by then.  Ten-year old me learned lessons about irony when I compared his behavior and demeanor with his name.  He was loving, but always shrouded, never smiling. That’s how I knew him.

A friend and I detoured into a silly conversation about stupid, slapstick movies recently and she confessed that she really likes silly Adam Sandler flicks, especially Happy Gilmore”.  I think I knew about the film, but must’ve missed it, given it debuted at an ultra-busy time in my life in the late 90’s.  Childcare and elder care were top priorities which meant Vicki had no time for silly – especially in the form of a two-hour sit-down to enjoy a goofy comedy.  Those were pragmatic, push-thru days. 

BUT – my friend’s admission about “Happy Gilmore”?  Yep – made me wonder about the film’s title and the “Happy” backstory.  Whether entirely true or not, one account is that Adam Sandler had a childhood friend who kicked his butt in golf.  A fun-loving, ‘happy’ friend…and Sandler’s character in the film is loosely based on his childhood golfing buddy.

When I look at the pics I’ve snipped in here of Grandpa Happy, all hip-checking swagger on a golf course, I smile.  He had very little in his life as a hard-working papa and spouse, but golly – the man knew how to pose – whether on a golf course or in that stunning fedora.  The combo of finding fun pics of my grandfather, mixed in with goofy movie trivia is a feel-good for me.  So, I thought I’d share. 

If Grandpa Happy lived a little longer, he would’ve been disappointed in me.  My “golfing” claim to fame?  Being booted off countless courses by the rangers…as I drove carts for my dad over the years.  Once I tried to caddy.  Oh, big mistake! Golfers don’t like onlookers who don’t know how to hush up.  I’ve never been the hush up type…but maybe if Grandpa Happy was putting, out of respect, I would’ve quieted down for him.

Thank you for reading…and big happy smiles to you!

Vicki 😊

22 thoughts on “Happy Is…as Happy Does

  1. Grandpa Happy certainly did know how to pose! So fun reading about him, and some of the other family nicknames. (We had a few of those too, such as my maternal grandmother, who was Bawky). But I think my favorite part was you asking
    about Snow White and the other dwarfs. And Grumpy and Dopey
    perhaps being the aunts and uncles. So funny! 😆

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well yes, there are varying opinions on how the name came about. 😉 But she was a special gal. I need to write about her some day. Hope your Sunday is spectacular as well, Vicki! 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved the Snow White reference, as well!! 😆 I have a big family, but no fun nicknames. However, my grandfather was a hoot!! He was always making people laugh and smile… I imagine he and your grandfather would have made good friends. 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You and Kendra are delightful…love the sharing that you both do…life is full of crazy ups and downs and ‘comparing notes’ helps so much…especially when we get to laugh together. I’d love to know more about your grandfather…sounds like you and Kendra have some writing/sharing to do to fill us all in – you about your grandpa and she about her grandma! xoxo! ❤❤❤

        Liked by 2 people

        1. He passed away earlier this year, but some of the highlights were that, when the grandkids were young, he would burn wine corks and draw facial hair (we loved it!!!), and he convinced one of my cousins that his job was picking up monkey poop at the zoo. Finally, in his later years, while suffering dementia, he still held on to his sense of humor, pulling daughters / granddaughters aside to loudly whisper “you told me you were going to dump him!” and then pulling the partner aside to say “look what you got yourself into…”. He was such a family man. I’ll have to write about him… he was really something special! ❤❤❤

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, for sharing this wonderful account about your grandfather Daniel, aka “happy.” I certainly agree with how you described him in the one golfing photo. I found my heart reaching out to him with the loss of grandma Lily. Dear God, the human condition—how I hope all of us can help lift one another!

    Big happy smiles to you, too. This moment—so glorious, is ours; let’s live it to the fullest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Art! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading about Happy. The bits and pieces I’ve patched together paint a story of profound loss when Lily passed. If ever there was a ‘soulmate’ story, it was theirs. One of my older cousins shared recently that Grandpa Happy was never the same man after he lost his Lily. Thank you, for always being a bright spot for others. Much appreciated! 😘😉😘


      1. What you have shared about Grandpa Daniel’s profound sense of loss after the passing of Grandma Lily is one of the driving forces regarding my work to share pointers about our essential nature, beyond name and form. Its effects can literally be crippling, emotionally and otherwise.


        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh my, yes…about essential nature, losses…the need for connection and the outcome and impact on emotions. Thanks for the work you do, Art, to draw that into the forefront. ❤


  3. Someone was nicknamed “Slat?” That had to be an interesting backstory.

    I love how you share about Happy and trying to make sense of his life, cohort and demeanor. This reminds me of all the work we do trying to make sense of where and who we come from.

    And it’s been years since I’ve seen Happy Gilmore but what a fun parallel you’ve drawn. I’m laughing about you talking too much to be a caddy!! 🙂

    What a fun post! XOXO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!! I’ll need to tell the story about “Slats” sometime…what a guy…and a tale of perseverance! How’s that for a teaser?! And yes…I was a terrible, awful caddy. But I liked the clubhouse afterward! 🤪

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the swagger. Love all the names too. There has to be a story to them all. Interesting how the name became ironic over time. I saw that with my own grandparents. I want to find ways to “enjoy” life — even with the adversity and loss. I know that’s an amazing challenge but definitely a big goal of mine. Enjoy and be grateful to the last. And yes, Adam sandler movies can be a guilty pleasure! Just don’t expect Oscar worthy. I actually like his latest one Hustle a lot. There’s little slapstick but just thought it was a good story. Have a Happy Day! Keep looking too for the other grumpy and dopey and the other dwarves. They’re out there I swear!


    1. Sis #1 and Sis #2? That’s funny! And you helped me remember something! Whenever my dad couldn’t remember a woman’s name…or a little girl’s…he’d call them “Sis” — in a term of endearment kind of way, but I really think he just forgot who they were and wanted to be nice! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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