Sitting with my 93 year old dad in COVID land.

Feb 27, 2021 by

93 year old Tom Watkins, Sr. ( Big Grandpa Tom) 

“You handsome dog, don’t you ever die!” 

COVID has infected and isolated a good, old man.
Covid washed over the world
Tumbled and humbled 
the fools and the proud
Taken the lives of countless souls
Shattered the hearts of families of old.

As the pandemic nears its one-year anniversary
it has spread misery around
that is a certainty.

The virus pays no attention to your economic status
It cares less if you are wealthy or poor
It would take your life without so much as a snore.

Black, White, Yellow, or Brown
If it grabbed you
it could pummel you to the ground.

  • Heartache
  • Loneliness
  • Isolation
  • Anxiety
  • Fear

The new reality,  COVID has been with us a year, so 

  • Mask up, 
  • Social distance 
  • And Wash your hands 

Let’s all do our part to rid this scourge from the land
Most of us have managed and navigated the COVID demand.

Yet, yesterday while visiting my 93 year old dad
I felt and saw the impact It has had – in his hug and eyes,
Very sad.

Life in an assisted living facility means loneliness, lack of family contact
uncertainty has taken a toll on my dad’s soul- that’s a fact.

Seeing each other for the first time in a while
We extended our fists in a bump
Sliding past our fists into a full bear hug lump.

His embrace and hold was that of a lost child, with tears welling up in both of our eyes. 

Handsome as ever 
even with his memory sometimes on temporary pause

His wit, humor and jokes return in a flash
“Don’t you ever die, you handsome old dog,”he laughs.

We Zoom, Skype and FaceTime with 3 generations 
Memories made, lost, and begotten
pass on the screen not soon forgotten. 

All of us wonder if this contact will be the last
But smiles and 3 generations of Watkins’ laughs
The glue connecting the, present and future with the past. 

As dad, grandpa, great-grandpa and Big Grandpa Tom quietly sits, his eyes struggle to stay open
As he takes in the moment
They flutter and blink and finally shut. 

We sit in silence until they reopen 
A smile crosses both of our faces
“I’m tired son” he says  with a grimace
Time for this COVID visit to reach an end. 

We break the COVID rules with an embrace
He quietly shuffling off to his isolated place. 

COVID, isolation and loneliness has taken a toll
We count our blessings, dad is still around to hold. 

I hope to visit again tomorrow
adding another memory moment to savor
again and again. 

We love you dad, grandpa, great-grandpa and Big Grandpa Tom.

Covid has taken a toll on a wonderful soul. 

Tom Watkins, Jr., (aka-Danny)   former Michigan State Superintendent of Schools and his Dad, Tom Watkins Sr. 

Breathe in Joy, Exhale Gratitude 

Tom Watkins, Jr 



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  1. Tom

    Great poem with touching memories. You have had an active and public career. Thanks for your service
    Another Tom from Alpena
    Yes, the one you know

  2. Bob Geake

    Wow! That is very touching. You are a man of many talents and you never cease to amaze.

  3. Dick Haefner

    Two Tom Watkins have made a difference in this world. God Bless both of you.

  4. Joe Dzenowagis

    Time is short. Every minute is worth a million dollars. Hang in there Tom.

  5. Daniel Coen

    Thank you for share it. Loved it. Your words put humanity into these material times.

  6. Bill Cecil

    This brought tears of joy and great sadness to my eyes( and heart) as I read this wonderful piece of writing. Thanks, Tom, for taking the time to share this with so many others. It reminded me of my recent trip to Chicago(from Michigan) a couple weeks ago to accompany my dad to a doctor’s appointment. My dad suffers from Alzheimer’s. It was the first time I have gotten to visit him in a year. I was shocked to see how much he has aged. However, what troubled me more was that, for the first time, it looked like the light in his eyes has been extinguished! Covid-19 has caused so much pain to so many this past year. I am so glad you got to have a brief visit with your dad (and he with you) and that you were kind enough to share it with us!

  7. Malkia Maisha Newman

    Beautiful poem Tom, I didn’t know that you had such a way with words!

  8. Mason Liam

    This article was so cute, I loved the fact how you didn’t leave your father in his hard time. The poem was so adorable.

  9. ling

    Luckily, you got to visit him!

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