Mavis Fodness

Pandemic hits this MeeMaw straight in the heart


My last in-person visit with my granddaughter, Jayden, was March 6.

Almost 60 days later, on the bright, sunny Sunday morning of May 3, the grandmother in me knew it was time to see Jayden face to face.

Unbeknownst to me, when my daughter Courtney told Jayden that MeeMaw Mavis was coming to Iowa for a visit, her response was “MeeMaw Mavis is not dead?”

It’s been a long two months for my 2-year-old granddaughter.

Her other MeeMaw, Kim, died from cancer March 28, and she, too, physically disappeared two months ago, just as Minnesota’s stay-at-home orders went into effect, stopping my in-person visits.

To a 2-year-old, disappearances of her MeeMaws are hard to process, let alone meanings of “death” and “heaven.” The only thing Jayden knew was both of her MeeMaws haven’t stopped by her home recently, so therefore they both must be “dead.”

As the result of the coronavirus pandemic, my granddaughter has only “seen” her Minnesota grandparents through an electronic device.

We would suddenly appear on a smart phone or iPad, and while we were satisfied with the “visit” of watching her play with her toys and listening to her stories, Jayden appears not to have made as strong a connection as we would have liked.

Her family has been on an emotional rollercoaster.

MeeMaw Kim’s cancer occurred three years ago, shortly before Jayden was born. Kim lived just down the gravel road from Jayden’s farm. She and Papa Tim were regular visitors. However, it wasn’t unusual that days would pass without Jayden seeing her, as Kim would isolate herself for days after a cancer treatment.

Like a game of peek-a-boo, she would reappear and Jayden would delight in her company once again.

The beginning of March brought the closure of Jayden’s day care as a precaution to the pandemic, and by mid-March Kim was moved into hospice after doctors finally said the cancer treatments were not having the desired effect.

COVID-19 limited Kim’s funeral to 10 people, and I wasn’t among them.

April passed under a cloud of grief as Jayden and her family adjusted to an in-home babysitter while trying to establish a new “normal” routine.

That’s why my May 3 hours-long visit became so important. I needed to reappear and help in the establishment of “normal” again. Not spreading the virus is on my mind, but so is preserving a personal connection with my granddaughter.

Wednesday was Jayden’s third birthday, and unlike missing her brother’s first-birthday celebration last month, I was there in person for the small gathering. I assisted in the blowing out of the candles and regular hand washings, activities I plan to share with her for years to come.

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