It took 92-year-old Verna Pickford more than two months to be able to cuddle her newest great-granddaughter, Harper, due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
The Stawell stalwart - known universally around town as "Gran" - had been eagerly awaiting the arrival through the long months of being house-bound.
Harper, the daughter of Jordy and Jade Ralph, was "snuck" into Mrs Pickford's house as a surprise.
"Her reaction was just priceless," said Trish Ralph, Mrs Pickford's daughter and Harper's grandmother.
"I came around so that I could video it and take photos. They just snuck in the door with her. She had the hands out for a hold before Jordy even got to her."
"It was excruciating," Mrs Ralph said. "Even when we did get to see them, you couldn't hug Jordy. It was hard."
The family had kept up-to-date via social media with the latest on the new arrival - who, according to Mrs Pickford, was "growing like a weed" - but it was no substitute for face-to-face.
Mrs Ralph said she also was unable to visit the Ararat hospital when Harper was born and had to wait until restrictions eased before getting to know her first grandchild.
" After Harper was born we'd Facetime and send photos, but it's not the same," Mrs Ralph said. "Even though [Verna] has other great grandchildren - and loves them all - with this one the anticipation was a bit more. The pregnancy was so long awaited - because she was isolated at home it was always 'any news, any news'.
Mrs Pickford - who has 12 great-grandchildren - has been in Stawell since 1947 and continues to live at home, with support from family and community groups.
The first lockdown was hard on the die-hard Swifts fan.
"She went to day centre, but that stopped," Mrs Ralph said. " We would often go up the street with kids and grandkids and have lunch. She missed all that. She really does miss the social support group three days a week."
Mrs Ralph praised the work of the community group who "rang five days a week during isolation". Its bus service has previously allowed Mrs Pickford to run errands and catch up with friends around Stawell
"When they were allowed a bit more contact they would bring an activity pack with crosswords - she loves those," she said. "It's a wonderful programme. She really needs to be back doing those things."
Mrs Pickford said she had no plans of moving into a nursing home.
"No way," she said. "They wouldn't put up with my late nights."
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