Three-year-old Trax waved from a distance, but his hesitant steps turned to a run when he heard his grandmother’s voice ringing through the park.
“Come here! Oh my goodness, I’ve missed you so much.”
Jean Chvala had gotten her second COVID-19 vaccine two weeks before the video was shot in early March in western Pennsylvania.
She lifted her grandson into her arms in a video clip that has gained national attention.
She hadn’t hugged Trax since October, Trax’s mom, Kelsey, told USA TODAY. For much of the year, Jean and her husband, Terry, have been “pretty isolated,” staying at home as much as possible to keep safe.
“She’s just so happy to see him again,” Kelsey Chvala said. “A piece of her just felt like it was missing.”
For a year, the coronavirus preyed on the vulnerable and spread uncontrollably throughout the U.S., upending daily life. It prompted experts to repeatedly warn that simple joys like a family holiday gathering could “kill grandma.”
But now, nearly half of Americans over the age of 65 are fully vaccinated, and heartfelt reunions are happening across the nation.
Extended visits have always been part of their routine: Twice a year, they’d spend a month in the spring and another in the fall with three of their four daughters who live in the Cape Coral area. They have watched their grandbabies – including three in Pennsylvania – grow up, attending soccer and baseball games and horse-riding competitions.
“My one granddaughter lived with me for two years while her mother went back to school. Oh God, she was a blessing. The other ones, they were always here at my house,” Nancy said.