Nfld. & Labrador

Blowing kisses through the glass, N.L. family visits grandmother during COVID-19

In spite of visitor restrictions at the seniors' home where she lives, Evangeline Payne is maintaining a connection with family by having visits over the phone with her family standing outside her window.

Corner Brook's Evangeline Payne had a visit from her granddaughter over the phone and through the window

Emma Seaborn had a visit with her 96-year-old great-grandmother, Evangeline Payne, while looking through the window at the Mountain View Retirement Centre. (Submitted by Julie Seaborn)

Not even a global pandemic is going to keep Corner Brook's Seaborn family from visiting their grandmother, 96-year-old Evangeline Payne.

Julie Seaborn and her seven-year-old daughter, Emma, didn't let visitor restrictions due to COVID-19 get in the way of their weekly visit to the senior.

On March 17,  they drove to the Mountain View Retirement Centre in Corner Brook the same as they usually do.

Instead of going inside, however, they stood outside Payne's window, while Emma called on the phone.

"I said, 'Oh my, let Nanny open her curtains,'" said Payne.

"And when I looked, God love her, she was standing by the window kissing her hand and waving to me, and putting her hand on the window, the little doll."

Evangeline Payne's family is used to visiting her at least once a week. Those in-person visits won't be permitted during the COVID-19 health emergency. (Submitted by Julie Seaborn)

Making the best of it

Julie Seaborn said chatting by phone through a window was not a normal visit, but they made the best of it.

She said a more typical stop at Payne's room would involve chatting about her grandmother's childhood on the Northern Peninsula and an opportunity for her to curl Payne's hair.

The children, when Seaborn's four-year-old Kyle tags along, might watch a show on the TV in Payne's room, but Emma said she usually looks forward to two things in particular.

"She always has treats and hugs," said Emma. "I'm used to being able to have hugs." 

I love to see them come in the door, my dear. I love the children so much.- Evangeline Payne

There won't be any hugs or treats for the next while, but Julie Seaborn said she's fine with that.

"I'm actually quite happy that they've decided to restrict visitors at the home. I think it's the right thing to do," she said.

"The biggest concern for us is that she'll be 97 in May, and things can change quickly."

Payne is a resident of Mountain View Retirement Home in Corner Brook. (Submitted by Julie Seaborn)

Staying connected

Payne said she looks forward to the visits from Seaborn and from as many of her 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren who are able to come visit.

"I love them when they come. I love to see them come in the door, my dear. I love the children so much," said Payne.

"It means the world to me."

For now, though, visits that involve close contact aren't possible and in spite of everything she's lived through in her lifetime, Payne admits that it's hard.

Emma and Kyle Seaborn enjoy a FaceTime visit with their great-grandmother. The retirement home where Evangeline Payne lives has made arrangements for residents to stay connected with family through technology. (Submitted by Julie Seaborn)

"It hurts you know, to see my grandchildren outside waving to me and throwing kisses to me," said Payne.

"But we got to go along with those things."

Seaborn said the home where her grandmother resides has also made it possible for residents to FaceTime with family members, so that gives them added contact.

"I'll make sure that my grandmother is not lonely, if I can help it," said Seaborn.

"I'll continue these visits. I mean, we don't have anything else to do."

Julie and Glen Seaborn have two children, Kyle and Emma. (Submitted by Julie Seaborn)

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About the Author

Bernice Hillier is a host of CBC Newfoundland Morning, which airs weekday mornings across western and central Newfoundland, as well as southern Labrador.


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