After getting vaccine, grandparents meet Knoxville grandson for first time

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — We’re at the point in the pandemic where long awaited reunions are finally happening. Vaccines have made these reunions possible.

This reunion came between his parents and his son. The grandparents were able to meet their now almost 6-month-old grandbaby for the first time.

“You see Grandmaggie and Popso yet,” Marshall Stephens asked his 2-year-old daughter as she looked out the front window. Her nose was pressed up against the glass.

Eleanor Stephens waits for her grandparents to arrive. They received the COVID-19 vaccine and made the four hour drive to see her again and meet her new baby brother. Source: Brian Engelstad, WATE

Waiting is hard. Just take it from a 2-year-old. On this particular pandemic day, Eleanor Stephens is being kept busy with chalk, bubbles and a scooter.

Her little brother, Henry Stephens, won’t let mom put him down. Meanwhile, her grandparents were busy making the four-hour drive to her house.

“They’ve been dying since October 30th, I guess, waiting to see him,” Shannon Stephens, the baby’s mom, said. “We have to send daily pictures and videos. Lots of FaceTime.”

If you thought patience was a hard lesson learned for a kid, try keeping Grandmaggie and Popso away from baby Henry for almost six months.

“I almost forgot the way,” James Stephens, aka Popso, said while he drove through his son’s neighborhood.

Margaret and James Stephen make the drive to Knoxville to meet their new grandson for the first time after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: Brian Engelstad, WATE

They’d all set a countdown on the calendar for when they could make the visit. With all adults in the Stephens family now fully vaccinated, the wait is over.

For the last year, holidays have been spent with just three until number four arrived. Between work from home, a newborn, and the occasionally mean pet cat, you know these parents can’t wait for the help.

“Someone else can hold the grandbaby,” Shannon laughed.

Grandmaggie worried the new baby might yell upon being held. Popso navigated the foreign streets of Knoxville where the two hadn’t been in months. At the end of their drive it occurred to them both that to the newest member of the family they are strangers.

“There they are,” the grandparents shouted as they pulled into the driveway.

Eleanor’s chalk and bubbles were scattered about. Henry was safely in mom’s arms. Grandmaggie opened the car door to a big hug from the little girl. Popso walked right over to mom to get his first in-person look at his grandson.

Margaret Stephens, aka Grandmaggie, holds her granddaughter for the first time in more than a year after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Source: Brian Engelstad, WATE

“Here’s Grandma,” Grandpa introduced.

More than a year and an entire pregnancy later, this family is reunited. It’s a relief.

“No yells,” Grandma said surprised as she held her grandson for the first time.

The pandemic forced us all to practice these lessons we learned long ago. Life’s toughest test yet.

“Really frustrating because he’s completely whole, you know. He started kind of looking at the screen, but that doesn’t mean anything and missing him being born was horrible,” Margaret Stephens, aka Grandmaggie, said.

The pandemic also offered proof that the best things really do tend to be worth the wait.

“Do you know who I am? I’m your grandpa,” Popso said bouncing baby on his knee.

As of this publication, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say vaccinated people can gather with other fully vaccinated people with no masks. Vaccinated people are encouraged only to visit with unvaccinated people from one other household.

For more on the latest CDC guidelines, click here.

To find a vaccine appointment in East Tennessee, click here.

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