Many grandparents dream of being able to reunite with family and a return to normal life after months of being kept apart by COVID-19.
That holds true for Linda Mestel, a grandmother of eight, in the West Island of Montreal.
She’s missed the family dinners and holiday celebrations, as well as well as spending one on one time with her grandkids.
Then there’s the hugging.
“That’s really big, actually,” she said. “We’ve come to understand how very important touch is. I think we all took hugs for granted.”
Mestel’s eldest grandson, 12 year-old Hayden Erdle, is also eager for a return to normal including Friday sleepovers at his grandmother’s, or bubbe, as he calls her.
On Tuesday, the pair came one step closer to the normalcy they’ve been craving, while also sharing an unforgettable moment.
Erdle received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the drive-thru clinic at Trudeau airport in Dorval — and the nurse giving the shot was none other than his bubbe.
“Amazing,” is how Erdle described the experience, adding he wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to give him the shot.
“I was very happy to get it cause I didn’t want to get COVID … it makes me safer and the people around me safer.”
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Mestel said that when she heard 12-year-olds could be vaccinated she called her daughter right away.
“My daughter gets on things right away,” Mestel said. “So she made an appointment and they came and it actually just worked out.”
On some days, Mestel evaluates patients but on Tuesday she was tasked with administering vaccines.
“I was working in Tent 3 at the airport that day and as her car pulled in, actually there was an opening at Tent 3,” Mestel said.
Of the hundreds of people she’s vaccinated, Mestel admitted Erdle was her favourite.
“I got really excited,” she said. “It was that feeling of, ‘I’m helping to protect you and finally doing something for you that I haven’t been able to do all year.'”
While the special moment was captured on video, it wasn’t until later that Mestel said the magnitude of what happened sunk in.
“It was really after that it resonated,” she said. “It truly wasn’t until after my shift was over that I even got to see the video and got to reflect on what just happened and how fortunate we were, both of us, to have had that moment, that experience together.”
Mestel, 63, retired from nursing in February but felt compelled to return to do her part in the province’s vaccine rollout after hearing they were looking for retired nurses.
“I was retired for minutes,” she laughed. “It was a wonderful feeling, actually, to be able to be part of the rollout and part of the solution to this problem.”
And while the year has been filled with challenges, it’s also a year Mestel says has been filled with gratitude.
“I just feel very grateful,” she said. “You know, we were grateful throughout COVID that we didn’t get ill. And, you know, we have homes that are comfortable.”
It’s a feeling Metsel said she’s observed at work too as more and more people choose to get vaccinated.
“As everybody went through the airport yesterday, they thanked us for giving it to them,” she said.
“And we thanked each person because, you know, as Hayden said, ‘It’s not just for you, it’s for everybody.'”
— With files from Global News’ Olivia O’Malley