“Stepgrandfather” doesn’t appear to be an official word (at least it’s not in any of my dictionaries), but it’s what I am as of yesterday afternoon, and a very proud one too. You can see the little fellow here; it was a new and wonderful experience to hold something that small and fresh and alive in my arms and know that it would grow up to be a quirky individual like the rest of us. (And born on the first of May—what good fortune!) I look forward to getting to know him.
There are a few hundred Google hits for “stepgrandfather”; my favorite is from this Arkansan parody of Midnight’s Children:
On the wedding day my stepgrandfather Oxford Davis gave my stepfather a wad of chewing tobacco, a baseball bat autographed by members of the Arkansas Reds, a pair of jumper cables, a thirty-dollar Bible, an album entitled Johnny Cash: The Cheatin’ Songs (a native son of Kingsland, 50 miles to the south, whom my stepgrandfather worked alongside with in the fields as a young man and never tired of endlessly repeating his stories about him and Johnny in their younger days, most of which started with: “I tell you, one night me and Johnny got so drunk…”. My stepgrandfather still keeps in his safebox the guitar pick that Johnny poked a man’s eye out with in a barfight, “just to watch him bleed”, in Fordyce, 1952.
I’ll strive to be that cool a stepgrandpa, though minus the chewing tobacco.
It occurs to me, by the way, that languages can be divided into those that have convenient prefixes (like English step-, German Stief-, and French beau-) with which new forms like “stepgrandfather” can be constructed and those that don’t. Russian, for instance, has otchim ‘stepfather’ and machekha ‘stepmother’ (stress on the first syllable in both); those are great words, but you tell me how I’m supposed to construct one on that model! (The primary words are otets ‘father’ and mat’ ‘mother.’)