As It Happens

Toronto family uses bucket truck to get face-to-face with grandfather in isolation

When the pandemic stopped family visits with a Toronto man’s 95-year-old grandfather, Avi Minkowitz arranged for his mom to have a brief visit — by hiring a bucket truck to take her to his second-storey window.

‘I love you too, but what are you doing outside the window?’

Avi Minkowitz's mother being lifted up by a bucket truck to her father's window. (Submitted by Avi Minkowitz)
Listen6:01

A Toronto man has found a unique way to bridge the gap between his family and his 95-year-old grandfather — using a bucket truck to bring them face-to-face at the second-storey window of his home. 

Max Rosenbloom is a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor who lives in a Toronto long-term care home. He's been unable to have visitors because of COVID-19 physical distancing restrictions. 

His grandson Avi Minkowitz told As It Happens host Carol Off that the bucket truck idea came from a discussion with his siblings about how they could connect their mother with her father beyond the confines of video-chatting. 

"My mom's an only child, so she spent most of her time caring for her elderly parents. My sister in Chicago came up with the idea saying, 'Hey, why not use a bucket truck?' And I said, 'Actually, I know someone who has one.'" 

This story was originally reported by BlogTO.

A Toronto family uses a bucket truck to visit their elderly grandfather on the third storey of a long-term care facility. (Submitted by Avi Minkowitz)

Luckily for Minkowitz, his grandfather's room faces the parking lot of the facility, making it "really easy to access."

He said his mother, Lee Minkowitz, was "at first apprehensive" about the plan, but then "totally jumped on board."

"Obviously, on the day of, it was ... a little nerve-wracking. But we made sure that she was safe and tied in properly and had the correct [personal protective equipment]," Minkowitz said.

"She made it happen. She's a true sport." 

The reunion was especially sweet because the isolation had been "emotionally taxing" for not only his elderly grandparents, but also his mother, Minkowitz said. 

"My mom [would] cut time out during her day to make sure that she could visit them almost every day. And, obviously, when the social distancing rules came into effect … we had to change gears." 

"We're all in a similar boat to most Torontonians. We have to take these social distancing rules with care."

Minkowitz said his grandfather had also been recently separated from his grandmother, when he had to move into the long-term care facility after health complications, adding to his loneliness.

"They've been married for 62 years. And it's obviously, that transition, then having to socially isolate, [has been] quite difficult." 

The encounter between his mother and her father was "very emotional," he said. For her to be able to see him through something other than a video screen was "really, really remarkable."

'She made it happen, she's a true sport,' Minkowitz said. (Submitted by Avi Minkowitz)

"My mom screamed out, 'I love you and I'm so happy to see you,' and said something to the effect of, 'I will turn mountains to be able to see you.' My grandfather, she was able to hear him say, 'I love you too, but what are you doing outside the window?'" Minkowitz said. 

"I guess he was a little shocked, but it definitely put a smile on his face."


Written by Adam Jacobson. Produced by Morgan Passi.

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