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Boynton Beach woman reunites with family after COVID-19 isolation

Diagnosed with cancer, Joyce Fish meets great-granddaughter for first time
Joyce Fish reads book to her great-granddaughter
Posted at 11:34 AM, Jun 22, 2021

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — For months the world waited -- waited for downtowns to be bustling again, restaurants to be packed and for people to gather with family.

At times, it seemed the new normal would never come.

Inside one Boynton Beach home, the waiting continued.

"A lot of waiting," Joyce Fish said. "And hoping."

She found herself still waiting in her home for her new normal to begin.

Joyce Fish, diagnosed with cancer
Diagnosed with cancer at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joyce Fish has been stuck inside her Boynton Beach home for a long, long time.

"This is my office. I usually have paperwork or stuff that I have to do here," Fish said while sitting on her couch.

She tried to find ways to pass the time with her husband, Jack, of 62 years.

"So we would sit and watch TV," she said.

Diagnosed with cancer right when the country shut down due to COVID-19, Fish has been stuck on her couch for a long, long time.

"My normal is not really what everybody else's normal is at this time," Fish said. "When you have a compromised immune situation, you can't just go about and do what everybody else is doing."

She was barely able to see her kids and unable to see her grandchildren.

Joyce Fish looks at pictures of her great-granddaughter on refrigerator at her Boynton Beach home
The closest Joyce Fish has gotten to her children, grandchildren and great-granddaughter is via FaceTime or by looking at pictures of them held by magnets on the refrigerator inside her Boynton Beach home.

Hardest of all, she missed out on the birth of her great-granddaughter a year ago. That's a moment she can never recover.

"You can't hug and you can't kiss and you can't do the things that are natural," Fish said. "I'm alone and I feel alone. The soon isn't so soon. You just have to be patient."

Fish did get to see her great-granddaughter from her couch several times a week through FaceTime to make the waiting just a little bit easier.

The FaceTimes continued over and over and over again for the last year.

Joyce Fish smiles as she speaks with great-grandaughter on FaceTime
Joyce Fish is all smiles as she speaks with her great-granddaughter from afar using FaceTime.

"I told my granddaughter every day I want my smile of the day, so I have at least 365 pictures that made me smile, so those little things are what help you get through the rough times," Fish said.

Who knows how many people share Fish's rough times through the pandemic? So many moments were stolen because of COVID-19.

All she could do was wait and hope to eventually create new moments.

"Hoping that my condition will improve enough so that I can feel more normalcy in my activities," she said.

Hope did come for Joyce in the form of a vaccine.

"Do anything I can to be with the family, to see that cute little baby and kiss those little chubby cheeks," Fish said. "I can't wait to get up there."

Two shots and a plane ride to New York later, Fish held her great-granddaughter for the first time on a Friday in June.

Joyce Fish finally meets great-granddaughter
Joyce Fish was finally able to meet her great-granddaughter.

"Oh, my little girl, you see," Fish said while holding her.

Fish waited one whole year for that.

"I feel very lucky and blessed that I've been able to do this," she said.

Everything she missed over the last year, she took back in that exact moment.

"You can't have that special feeling unless you're touching someone and holding someone and being with them and seeing reactions and interactions, and I think that's what it's all about," Fish said. "It certainly feels a lot better than it's been feeling in a long time."

She made it through the rough times and finds herself finally in her new normal.

"I did. I did, and I'm grateful for that," she said. "I really am."

Fish's grandson is getting married in the fall. She plans to be there.