BY GLORIA HAMMER
FaceTiming with my 8-year-old grandson, Henry, I was telling him that I missed his hugs. Kidding Henry, I said “I’m going to get a large sheet, cover you up and squeeze.” A week passed and on our weekly visit where we try to stay 6 feet apart Henry said, “Gogo, where is the sheet?” I was just being silly, but kids are so literal. I got the sheet and we hugged. It was priceless.
We can all agree this is a frightening time. How do we stay up when everything is upside down? My children and my grandkids (Henry and Sadie) are rallying.
What are other bubbes thinking during this pandemic? I asked eight special grandmas to comment, and here's what they had to say in their own words.
Retired sales exec, Old Republic Title; grandchildren Sofia, Lilly, Eloise and Willem
No more play dates, dinners and weekly slumber parties at our house with granddaughters Sofia and Lilly, and I do miss our trips to Berkeley to visit our other two grandchildren, Eloise and Willem. Frequent phone calls, FaceTime and Zoom keep us connected. Our daily virtual story hour with granddaughter Eloise has drawn us closer. I miss exercise classes but take long walks and look forward to sharing dinners out with good friends. Last week we attended our first virtual Shabbat service beamed from Shaarie Torah.
Retired x-ray tech; grandchildren Phoebe & Ravi, 13 & 10
Sheltering in place reminds me of being confined to a ghetto. We have freedom but places we normally visit, even grocery stores, are restricted. This is a time of need for healthcare workers, public servants and homeless.
This is our normal/abnormal for 2020 – not being able to gather for meals, celebrate Passover, go to services or meet friends for card games and mahjong. We have Zoom, drive-by visits, time outdoors. It is not easy for our families working from home. They are fortunate to have jobs. Feeling isolated, but also blessed to have a husband whom I like. This is our normal for 2020, hopefully we return to health as a nation and as a world.
Retired human resource manager and consultant at Wells Fargo
Grandchildren are the ultimate joy. My grandchildren ages 14, 11, and twins 10½ are funny, bright, kind; all are technological consultants, helping me navigate through social media. When I call for help, they say, “BUBBEEEEE ... just press this or click that”! I know they are rolling their eyes ... LOL!!
There’s a bookstore at the beach. I call and explain who my grandchildren are and what their personalities are like, they pick out books, and mail them out. My grandson told me, “Bubbee, one day this will be in our history books.” There’s good that comes from adversity… like taking less for granted and enjoying the little things.
Retired associate executive VP of Federation
My heart aches for our high school senior granddaughter, who will not have a graduation, prom, senior skip day, not doing any of the things that normally mark this moment. My heart aches for my college freshman grandson, whose freshman year has been turned upside down. I FaceTime with our youngest grandchildren and wonder what kind of world lies ahead. All nine of my grandchildren have loving parents and a supportive extended family. This pandemic has forever changed the world in ways we have yet begun to understand.
Retired; three grandchildren
As a former Morah at Neveh Shalom Foundation School, we were able to applaud and record children’s achievements and milestones. I have three beautiful grandchildren: Daniela, 5; Dylan, 1; and Kayden, 1. Providing them daycare allowed me to witness many of their first accomplishments. Daughter Erin La Rosa is a LCSW; her husband, Edward, is in the tech industry and can work at home. Daughter Keli is an LPC for Trillium Family Services and her husband, DeAndre, is a Portland Police Officer. With the pandemic we are not able to have physical contact; through technology I can still see milestones. But it’s not the same without hugs and sloppy kisses!
Retired Cascade Women’s Health; five grandchildren
Living alone, I’ve had a range of emotions. All my kids are in town. I only drive by or hope for a surprise knock on the back screen door! I miss the hugs! The isolation is the worst. Trying to put a positive spin on it daily is not in my nature. I am scared and talk to myself way too much! This too shall pass, and it is said, “All things happen for a reason.” I hope and pray we all learn from this. A time to show more respect for each other and appreciate that we each are going through this the best we can. L’Chaim!
Chef owner Mother’s Bistro & Bar; grandmother to Bella, 17; Taylor, 15; and Oliver and Julian, twins almost 8
The pandemic basically shut down my restaurant (open for dinner takeout/delivery only). It has brought me closer to my grand twins, whom I’ve been helping raise since they were 4. First we had to quarantine and couldn’t see each other. Now we’re spending weeks together 24/7 doing schoolwork, cooking, reading, gardening and more. For Shabbat, I made Dafina (Moroccan Sabbath Stew) with the twins, we lit candles, said the prayers. The next morning we woke to the scent of the stew permeating the house. Sabbath blessing during these COVID-19 times!
Community concierge MJCC; six grandchildren
How is this Corona virus different than all other times? In all other times we can drop off or pick up our grandchildren from school. Now we wave from afar. In all other times we eat dinner with them one to three times a week. Now we watch them play from 10 feet away. In all other times I eat in restaurants with friends eight-14 times per week. Now I cook! We are healthy, have shelter, food and toilet paper. I am NOT complaining!
The Jewish Grandparents Network has announced three sessions on “Grandparenting Today: Joys, Opportunities and Challenges.” The series begins today (May 13), with each session beginning at 11 am on successive Wednesdays.
Join one or all three Zoom conversations on issues grandparents face today – with particular attention to the impact of the pandemic. Each features panelists chosen for their professional wisdom and experiences in our changing families.
May 13 – Today’s Jewish Families: Different, Joyful, and… Sometimes Challenging
May 20 – What Is Carried Forward: Sharing Values with Our Grandchildren
May 27 – “The Whole World Is A Narrow Bridge”: Grandparenting During Times of Crisis
For a full description of these free programs and to sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: