Reuniting with the grandkids after the long lockdown: A Lola’s indescribable joy

COVID is not yet defeated but thanks to science, mankind is winning. Photo: Unsplash

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, PhD

It all seemed eerie.  When March 2020 arrived, so many changes happened around us.

In many households, rooms were transformed into office spaces. Regular school terms were set aside and children were educated electronically.  Everyone was talking about ‘vaccination’ – when to get it, where, how long to wait, and whether to get it at all. Getting a vaccine was a public health issue that has become a political debate.  Travel came to a halt.

So many facets of life were put on hold.

Through these trying times, members of the older generation were not seeing their families, especially their grandchildren, on a regular basis. There were no weekend visits “from the kids,” no kisses and most certainly no hugs. Lolos and Lolas received their irreplaceable comfort just knowing the youngsters are OK conveyed through phone calls, texts or Facebook messages. They continued to be in touch with queries about how they were getting along; how their wishes were to be positively answered; when they would be certain of their travel plans to visit their elders who reside on separate coasts.

Liberty came in installment when word arrived that vaccinated people started to seek the streets and parks as numbers moved on with their unmasked faces that spoke of joy and relief. Youngsters rushed into their grandparents’ warm embraces. Restaurants were described as “booming.” Most welcome sights included how baseball and basketball stadiums worked to replace cardboard cutouts with real fans. Most everyone who noticed the “return-to-normal” spoke of how they had looked forward to going back to their offices.

As a mother of three, grandmother of six and great grandmother of eight, my feelings about the slow return to normalcy is indescribable.  The littlest ones who were cautioned not to rush into their elders’ arms now realize how they knew they had to follow rules given by their parents. Letting them know the value of wearing masks had to be part of the day’s reminders. When they were allowed to greet their elders like they used to, instant joy became theirs.  They no longer had to be restrained as they went on accompanied by their spontaneous actions.

No words can ever describe aptly how it means to see there is no longer any hesitation from the younger generations to greet their elders like they used to. They now rush to return the long-sought hugs accompanied by their smiles and gleeful faces. As the older grandkids take their places after living up to their professional commitments, it is so heartwarming to see them no longer via video nor speak to them via phone lines. They arrive on schedule and are not hesitant in letting their elders know how long they had sought the time to make it to their folks’ home despite the brevity of their visits.

Ours has been a long wait.  But the latter has been rewarded with those vaccines that have signified their utmost value. 

Real-world data reports indicate thus far how the vaccines are 99.9 percent effective in preventing lengthy hospital stays and deaths.  Word has been spread how lifesaving vaccines desperately needed have been sought around the world. What should not be shunted aside at least for now is how senior citizens won’t stop being grateful to science for the heroic sacrifices of those who pulled their efforts together for the common good: to save lives.

We, who had seen war in our midst decades ago realize the heroic sacrifices made for enormous numbers of the population-at-large. But nothing can affix a price on elders like us who do not cease to be remembered by their grandkids who seek travel just to greet us personally.  Gratitude indeed knows no bounds.

There is one signal reminder that the past 12 months plus has given mankind: The world went to war.  Covid has not been beaten yet.  But mankind is winning.  The victory is not that distant from today when elders and other seniors are still grateful to see how their presence is needed in what was recently a world of gloom. 

This writer is one that will always be thankful in remembering how members of her younger generation rallied to her boundless loneliness separated by miles and miles of distance made shorter by listening to the concerns and longing of the grandchildren who provided assurances that when travel would be declared safe, the miles would no longer appear that distant. Thanks to the achievements made by medicine and science.

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