By Francine Van July/2020
A grandmother, or Oma in my culture, my perspective was opened when first visiting my daughter and granddaughters during this pandemic. I arrived in their driveway for the first time feeling overwhelmed just driving and being outdoors. Weeks had passed. I exchanged food with my daughter leaving items on her porch and picking up some she was providing for me. We nodded to each other through the glass. I cried all the way home.
My next visit, we talked in the driveway maintaining distance. We dropped items on the driveway for the exchange rather than handing to each other. My granddaughters stood on their porch watching me. They indicated that life was wonderful without school and they loved being home. They had no fear or extensive perspectives on what was actually happening.
My following visit, the rules began relaxing, and we took a little time to visit. I call them my garage visits, and they continue now on weekends for morning coffee. We distance and I sit on my camping chair, which I now store in the backseat of the car for use many times when I need a moment to sit and distance, like getting my car serviced. New habits are developing.
I drove home and saw a dead squirrel on the road and cried.
My last visit, I picked up some donuts and coffee at a drive through. My granddaughters now come into the garage for moments to chat still maintaining distance. I accidentally hand them drinks, forgetting the rules and with their eyes wide open, accept. I remember. I hand over the donuts to my daughter and notice her caution for just a moment of hesitation in accepting them.
I have missed my grandchildren through birthdays now. I have missed their hugs and spontaneity. I miss our lunches together when they told me all about their friends. I feel an anxiety now for their safety and mine. Our distance is not just physical; it has seeped into our psyche and I wonder if it will forever change our relationships.