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Grandparents in Quarantine: When will I be able to hug my grandchildren again?


They have been more than 100 days without being together. Some use technology to maintain the bond, others wait for the boys to pass near their home to greet them from a distance. But everyone misses encounters and shared routines. Here, their stories.

They have been more than 100 days without being together. Some use technology to maintain the bond, others wait for the boys to pass near their home to greet them from a distance. But everyone misses encounters and shared routines. Here, their stories.

Juliet Roffo

06/30/2020 - 6:31

  • Clarí
  • Society

Every Friday afternoon Graciela appears at the door of her house in Belgrano R. On the corner, for just a few minutes that do not reach ten, her daughter stops the car: her grandchildren Franco and Luca, who are going or returning from the father's house, they wave and smile. Fully complying with the social distancing forced by the coronavirus pandemic and the State, Graciela returns the gesture. None of this resembles family lunches every Sunday, which also included Mila, Graciela's one-year-five-month-old granddaughter: all that, which involves hugs, caresses, a little upa and the hustle and bustle of the meetings of several, is from the pre-quarantine era.

Luca, Franco and Mila's grandmother

Listen to the message of his grandson Luca

Graciela, who is a psychoanalyst and has more than seventy, is one of the many people who, by definition, make her age a risk group for the global virus. She is also one of the grandmothers and grandfathers that the quarantine forced to be away from her grandchildren, perhaps one of the most difficult obstacles of these more than a hundred days.

According to the latest available figures from the City's Statistics and Census Directorate, in 2018 652,200 people aged 60 or over lived in Buenos Aires territory: 21.2% of the total population of the City. There are 295,800 people between 60 and 69 years old, and 356,400 people aged 70 and over. Of those 652,200 people aged 60 and over, there are 222,550 who live alone: ​​it is 34.1% of that universe . There are 79,700 one-person dwellings of inhabitants between 60 and 69 years old and 142,850 of those who are over 70 years old.

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This entire population is one of the most urged to stay at home and, at the same time, to maintain activities that sustain the routine: from work, remotely, to exercises that encourage creativity and the cognitive. However, the custom of seeing grandchildren with whom they do not live is forbidden, and grandmothers and grandparents miss .

Photo: Fernando de la Orden

Felipe's grandfather

"Not seeing each other generates a very big deterioration in the relationship , because that contact that Felipe and I are used to is lost," says Pedro. She is 78 years old and Felipe, 12. Since his grandson started gardening, Pedro had been looking for him twice a week at school: "First it was to give my daughter a hand, but later it became a way to nurture my relationship with him. Felipe is almost a teenager and at some point he will rot from his grandfather. I already told him that when that happens we will chat, and this distance can accelerate that moment, "Pedro fears.

Pedro Palm de Belgrano with the photo of his grandson Felipe./ Photo: Fernando de la Orden

She not only worries about how the bond with her grandson will be when she can recover a certain daily life - in conditions that are still uncertain - but for what she cannot attest now: "I have not seen my grandson for more than three months . I'm losing a lot of things , an intellectual growth in pre-adolescence is day to day and I could see in our conversations about history or about the family , "says Pedro.

Pedro and his grandson Felipe, in a photo taken last year.

That of making a video call with her grandson does not work for her: "It is frustrating, all the time I feel that it is not enough. It happens to me with the contact with Felipe and also with classes that I had been taking and that I do not want to do virtually, for example, Russian. In the live match there are climates, voices, physical presence, "he summarizes. He puts crude words to what he feels when he sees someone who wants a video call: "It's like kissing a glass . " Pedro, who is an architect and who is retired, longs for the reunion with Felipe, but he has some fears: "I hope to recognize his body and his head, he is in full swing."  

Photo: Mario Quinteros

Grandparents of Felipe, Malena, Eugenia, Joaquín and Manuel

Listen to the message of his granddaughters Eugenia and Malena

Like Graciela, Ana María is a psychologist and also has more than 70. She lives in Tapiales, La Matanza, and before the pandemic she attended her patients in a City office: now she does it by video call. She lives with Abel, her husband of 77 years who worked for decades in the auto industry. They have three grandchildren - Felipe, Joaquín and Manuel - and two granddaughters - Malena and Eugenia, 16-year-old twins. It was "the girls" who were in charge of explaining how to use Zoom and Skype , how to orient the camera, what link to press to enter the meeting. "They were wishing that we could achieve this communication, they put a lot of emphasis", Ana María, who has been teaching for more than thirty years and who has retired from this activity, is moved.

The pandemic stopped a routine in which Ana María went to look for Joaquín every day at school, took him to the plaza and then to the house. Before that, when Felipe, Malena and Eugenia were younger, their grandparents took care of them while their parents were on the road, took them for a walk, kept them company when doing homework, or took them to play sports at the Ferro club by Caballito. "We were mobilizing without problems to be with our grandchildren, we are very independent, " Abel describes. And he adds, between the joy and the anguish: "The boys now show us their love through the video call. But there is something very impersonal in all that. I don't have them by my side, and we are used to personal contact. We miss them" .

Ana María and Abel grandparents who miss their grandchildren due to the quarantine of the coronavirus.Photo: Rafael Mario Quinteros

"The boys talk less, it is more difficult for them to count a lot, but I still feel that we are connected and we are happy to see each other . The girls are more talkative, we say 'Las Picudas'. And I tell the younger boy that when I see him I will I'm going to eat a lot of kisses, I'm going to eat it. It's the same thing I said before quarantine, so I try to keep that, it was our game, "says Ana María. Her youngest grandson is 9 years old. The meetings are coordinated by WhatsApp: they have a group called "Grandparents and grandchildren" and there someone says "snack together" and the rest join.

Abel and Ana María with their five grandchildren: Felipe, Malena, Eugenia, Manuel and Joaquín, in a photo prior to quarantine.

Since Felipe, Malena and Eugenia were boys, Ana María does reiki and massages for them. " All that strange: a lot. The hug, kiss them, see the expressions, the eyes . We are well in our house and we know that this is to take care of ourselves. We also know that all our grandchildren are taking care of themselves at home, and the most big, when they see us strange for not being able to find us, they lift our spirits saying that it is so that we are healthy, "she describes.

Abel made aubergines to send to his grandchildren. He says that "love is not lost, it overcomes all these vicissitudes". Ana María agrees, she says that this scenario served for her grandchildren to express their love and desire to care for them. But he asks himself a question: "At this stage of life the grandchildren are the ones who bring joy, youth, spontaneity, affection, and all of this keeps us alive . Will they get used to not seeing us?"

Photo: Fernando de la Orden

Listen to the message of his grandson Felipe

Ana lives in Almagro and, like Abel, also prepared a tupper: it was to send cheese scones and an apple cake to Felipe, his grandson. "Twice a week I went to look for him at school. He is in seventh grade so that frequency was going to start to slow down . We walked together fourteen blocks chatting on Honduras Street. Since he was a little boy we talked a lot," Ana describes. illustrates: "At three years old I wonder what God is like."

Ana and Felipe shared time and activities : "A piano teacher would come to my daughter's house and first she would teach him and then me. I miss sharing those moments, walking with him, chatting about what is emerging", bill.

Ana de Almagro with the photo of her grandson Felipe./Photo: Fernando de la Orden

He talks to his grandson every day, who asks him for help with his homework - he asks, for example, what liberalism is - but, as in other cases, nothing resembles the closeness of the body. " I find it hard not to be able to hug and kiss him. The intellectual part of our bond remains, but it is not the same, and he is at an age when there is little left to hug him and kiss him," he explains. Ana is 75 years old, an architect and a teacher at technical schools.

Ana and her grandson Felipe, in a photo from 2011, when the boy was 3 years old.

"I have no problem with him not calling me. He is entering adolescence so he detaches himself from his close adults. At school they told them about the dictatorship and I told him about my experience : how we destroyed books and flushed them down the toilet, for example, "narrates Ana. For her," the affective is intact, but the mime, the caress is missing. "

Photo: Maxi Failla

Listen to messages from her grandchildren Emma, ​​Emiliano and Agustín

The loudest days at Betty's house were when River was playing. There, in the Caballito house where she lives with her husband Pedro, her three children, her daughter-in-law, her son-in-law, and her three grandchildren met when the quarantine was not the prevailing normality. At that time of more than a hundred days that are very long, Betty -75 years, social psychologist, addiction operator and graphologist- walked eleven blocks to Flores: her daughter lives there with one of her two 15-year-old grandchildren. and with Emma, ​​8.

"I helped my daughter at her job, a catering company, and especially I took care of the boys when she was very busy. I stayed with them if she went out, we would see each other all the time," she says.

Emiliano, her other grandson of 15, visited her on weekends: her father brought him from his Moreno home. "The men are more reluctant to the video call, they find it harder to talk, but we still see each other every other day. I have a WhatsApp group with the three of them and we organize family lunches there. With the girl we also send jokes, videos, I send her to to watch theater and she tells me about her homework, "Betty describes. Every time Emma sees her grandparents she cries for a little while: "Sometimes we cry with her," she says .

Betty with her husband Pedro in the Flores neighborhood. (Photo Maxi Failla)

Betty has no doubts about how she will continue her relationship with her three grandchildren: "There will be no changes in the affective. But there would have to be psychologists or psychiatrists in the team that advises the President because all this is deteriorating our mental health . We do not know what is going to happen or when we are going to be able to be all together. I don't know when I will hear a goal cry from those who were never missing in my house, "he laments.

"With the grandchildren, especially the younger ones, the most important thing is to maintain the bond, " emphasizes Graciela, the neighbor of Belgrano R who appears on Fridays to see her grandchildren and for her grandchildren to see her. She says it in her character as a grandmother and also, perhaps, as a psychoanalyst.

In Betty's house, a photo frame shows her with Emma, ​​Agustín and Emiliano.

"The three of them are very much missed. I had freed myself an entire day of the week to take care of Mila and spend the day with her, and I was afraid that this bond would be dismantled because of not being able to see her, but every day we talked once or twice by video call, when she asks her 'abus'. She remembers the toys she has in my house and the paintings that catch her attention, she asks to see all that. And at first she wanted to touch me or feed me through the screen, we had to teach him that you can't ", he describes.

"I miss them horrors. The 19, Franco, used to come home a lot. And to Luca, 16, he went to look for him twice a week on the subway and took him to his house to share some time. Surprisingly, Franco asks how we are doing more that before and always responds to messages: before, sometimes he responded and sometimes he did not. He is our film and series advisor, he recommends to me and to grandfather what we can see in the quarantine, "explains Graciela.

"With the boys I do not feel that the quarantine is going to modify the bond, but with the baby, due to her age, it is necessary to work hard so that this does not happen. It is time to adapt to this reality with the best possible resources. From preparing a puppet at home until trying not to be sad. But of course this scenario frustrates and distresses me. The five or ten minutes I see the boys on Fridays is the only truly human contact there is in these months. And it cannot last more than that's because it can be very frustrating not being able to hug your grandson . " The question of when that hug will return remains unanswered, and in that uncertainty the anguish takes root. And it grows.


Source: clarin

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