ST. LOUIS – It’s been a year since grandparents across the country haven’t been able to hug their grandchildren after social distancing guidelines were put in place to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Now that the vaccine is out, 74-year-old Jim Winkeler of St. Charles, Missouri was finally able to give his seven grandkids a hug on March 19 after more than a year.
“Oh man, it was great! I opened up the door and all seven of them were right there. They rushed in and we hugged,” said Winkeler. It was like pandemonium, it was loud, it was noisy, everybody was so happy. It was great, it was really great.”
The heartwarming moment was captured by Jim’s daughter Marybeth.
“It was such an exciting moment,” said Marybeth. We pulled in the driveway and I told them to go rush Papa, go hug Grandpa. They all jumped on him, the kids were all so excited to see and hug papa.”
The night before the long-awaited reunion Marybeth and his seven grandkids placed 50 Pink Flamingos in his front yard, each had a special personalized message attached.
“The boys wanted to surprise Papa with a Flock of Flamingos, so they made the signs and we put them in his yard the night before.”
Marybeth added the last time her father seen his grandchildren was on Christmas.
“We had all quarantined so we could spend Christmas together,” she said.
As the coronavirus started to spread, he took the advice of his doctors to isolate and stay home.
“It was tough,” said Winkeler. “I was sitting at home, looking out of the window and really missing my family. We are a very social family, we enjoy each other, and love each other, so having to see them from a distance and giving air hugs was not good enough for me,” he said.
Jim says the pandemic has been surreal, but being vaccinated is a game changer.
“This is our ticket to get back to get to normal life and our family. I got my second dose on March 11th and I am very thankful. Although I had to drive all the way up north, it was worth it.”
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave fully vaccinated grandparents the green light to hug their unvaccinated grandchildren, especially if they are local.
If you have moments like this, we’d love to see them too.