Jonah Karzmer: A break from golf to honor our GiGi

Some weeks we celebrate golf’s major championships. Some weeks we just talk golf.

But once a year I get the privilege to celebrate the special people in our lives who have helped us become the individuals we all are: Moms.

I remember my first Mother’s Day piece from 2013 easily being my most popular column of the year. From there, I’ve recognized my wife Beth. My mother, Marsha and mother-in law, Fran. And I’ve remembered fondly my grandmothers who are no longer with us, Dorothy Ford and Rita Karzmer.

But this year I thought it would be appropriate to recognize a special woman in my life who hasn’t yet gotten her own Mother’s Day column: our GiGi.

Yes, my wife’s grandmother is, thankfully, still with us today. For the first 15 years I knew her, she was Grandma Betty. And for the five years since our first daughter Stella was born, she has become our very special GiGi.

I’ve learned over the years to never reveal a woman’s age, so don’t worry GiGi, your secret is safe with me. For contextual purposes however, I will say that GiGi is part of what many call our “greatest generation.”

When I hear that term, I picture black and white photos of returning soldiers in Times Square. I think of the millions of young American men who enlisted to serve our country in World War II. And the Baby-Boom and cultural revolutions that came after.

But I think on this special day to honor the moms in our lives, let’s not forget the women who were part of that greatest generation.

Our GiGi lived through the Great Depression. And was able to listen to FDR’s Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy” speech live.

As a history buff, I’ve asked GiGi plenty of questions about the “good old days.” I know she enjoyed getting dressed up for dinner and dancing. I know she was in a women’s bowling league with her friends. And I know she used to save up money and go buy expensive shoes from the high-end stores in Downtown Youngstown.

What I’ve also come to learn and appreciate are the qualities that GiGi, and I’m sure a lot of the women still with us from that greatest generation, possess today: a work ethic that puts all other generations to shame, a certain quiet dignity that only comes from years of experience, both happiness and heartache, an unshakable bond with her family and her faith and an inner strength and resolve to continue to live and contribute to those around her.

I don’t know why, but I keep coming back to a term I use with endearment: a real dame.

This past week, our GiGi had some health issues and found herself in the hospital. Strong, and getting stronger, she’s been temporarily moved to a rehabilitation facility before coming back home.

But on this day, Mother’s Day, I thought it was only appropriate for me to finally single out and celebrate the Mother, of the Mother, of the Mother of my baby girls.

Four generations of women together is certainly something to celebrate. So to our GiGi Betty, and to all the great grandmothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day.

We celebrate you. We love you. And while we know we’ll never be able to duplicate you, please be assured that we all know we wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at

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