Did you know?
Your family may call her grandma, granny, or gram. But these nicknames are relatively recent, historically speaking. The full word 'grandmother' actually dates back to 1375–1425. It derives from the Old English ealde mōdor, literally meaning 'old mother.'
The origin of 'great-grandmother' (þridde mōdor, or 'third mother') is slightly more recent. It was first recorded around 1520–30. Incidently, the prefix grand- is used to refer to a person who is one generation removed, and the prefix great- indicates yet another generation.
Following this convention, 'great-great-grandmother' would be fēowerþe mōdor (fourth mother) and great-great-great-grandmother would be fīfte mōdor (fifth mother). Given that the average person lived just 35 years in the Early Middle Ages when Old English was spoken, few people back then would have had use for these terms. Other than speaking of mothers who were long since gone, of course.
However, that is not true today. There have been a few cases of single families with six generations alive at the same time. And even one family with seven. This occurred with the birth of Christopher John Bollig on January 21, 1989, which made Augusta Bunge Pagel a very-much-alive sixte mōdor – that is, a great-great-great-great-grandmother!
According to Guinness World Records, Augusta was born on October 13, 1879 in Tonawanda, New York. This made her 109 years, 3 months, and 8 days old at the time. Followed by her daughter Ella Sabin (aged 89), her granddaughter Anna Wendlandt (70), her great-granddaughter Betty Wolter (52), her great-great-granddaughter Debra Bollig (33), her great-great-great-granddaughter Lori Bollig (15), and her great-great-great-great-grandson Christopher.
Augusta died on May 18, 1989 in Medford, Wisconsin – no doubt quite proud of her amazing family!