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More families reuniting after yearlong pandemic separations

Family Reunions After COVID
Family Reunions After COVID

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Families across the country have canceled holidays, vacations, weddings, and graduations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of our News4jax viewers are sharing that special moment when they finally get to hug their loved ones.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you’re a grandparent, it doesn’t get much better than seeing and hugging your grandchildren after months apart.

Mohamad and Debi Chamander live in Tarpon Springs, Florida, but have four children who live with their own families elsewhere. The one who is the closest still lives an hour away. Another daughter is raising a family in Michigan, but their daughter, Sophia Vollmer, is in Jacksonville.

With everyone living so far apart, getting everyone together for a visit was scarce, to begin with, but COVID-19 made it even harder. This week, there were finally able to all get together.

“The happiest thing in my life,” Mohamad Chamander said with a smile. “The grandkids, they’re everything in my life. They bring me joy and happiness.”

His wife, Debi agrees.

“It makes us younger chasing them,” Debi Chamander said. “I’m teary-eyed.”

Since they all got into town, the family has made quality time a priority. They’ve visited the beach, made plans to fish, and spend time outdoors. They say one of the most amazing things has been watching the little ones got reacquainted. Vollmer’s 7-year old niece, Aaliyah, is visiting from Michigan. Vollmer says seeing her bond with her little girl is everything.

“Oh my gosh, since she was a baby, she was my number one,” Vollmer said. “Now that she’s 7, it’s just so weird. She’s like a little woman.”

A little woman who is thrilled to see her family again.

“Yeah, it makes me feel way much better,” Aaliyah said.

“Way much better,” Debi responded with a chuckle.

While the challenges from COVID-19 still impact families nationwide, this family is just grateful to have the chance to all be together. Through it all, the family says they’ve each learned a lot through the experience of being separated because of COVID-19.

“I never take anything for granted,” Debi Chamander said tearfully.

Their daughter, Sophia, agrees.

“I think that would be the same for me,” she said. “Life is just so short.”

So short, but so full once again. To commemorate this special visit, the family had professional pictures taken.

If you’ve enjoyed a post-COVID family reunion, News4jax would love to learn more. Please upload your reunion photos to SnapJax.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.