You may have seen the viral video that Jason and Susan Zwolak posted of their baby son, Easton, meeting his 105-year-old great-grandfather for the first time. The clip, a Facebook livestream filmed earlier this month to keep the Zwolaks’ scattered family in the loop, became an overnight sensation — and now has more than 15 million views.
For the video’s subjects, however, it was just the start of a beautiful relationship.
James Herald Spring, otherwise known as “Pop,” is Susan Zwolak’s grandfather, who lives in Long Beach, California. At 105, he’s still plenty active, spending time outside each day and keeping busy with woodworking projects. “He likes to tinker around and make things,” said Susan Zwolak, 46. "He’s quite independent, very sharp.”
All the same, Pop has slowed down a bit these past few years. Zwolak, who lives about 30 minutes away in Irvine, makes an effort to visit four or five times a week. But what’s really breathing new life into Pop these days is, well, a new life.
“The last two months of my pregnancy, he kept asking me when I’m going to the hospital. He showed a real interest,” said Zwolak.
So when Easton was born on March 28, introducing him to Pop was high on the to-do list. “We brought him home on a Saturday, and on Sunday we took him over,” said Zwolak.
“We never anticipated what we saw … the hugs, the look in his eye.”
The visits have since continued three or four times a week. “(Pop) calls (Easton) ‘the little guy,’” Zwolak said. “Once he gets him, he will not let him go. He says, ‘Get outta here!’ He’s so in love.”
And yes, Pop always worries that he might drop Easton. But of course he never does.
Despite the 105-year age difference, the two have settled into a comfortable routine together.
“There was one day that we had Easton in his car seat on the table,” Jason Zwolak, 40, recalled. “Pop still cooks his oatmeal every morning — the same breakfast he’s had for 40 years — and we caught this moment of him rocking Easton and grabbing his foot while eating his signature breakfast. Easton was wide awake, looking at Pop and talking to him. It was very cool.”
In his long life, Pop has seen the loss of his wife and two sons. So the morale boost he gets from bonding with his great-grandson is enormous. “We use (Easton) to really push Pop,” Jason Zwolak continued. “On days when he’s down … we say, ‘You want to see Easton walk, see him talk.’”
The proud dad hopes the relationship's gifts will one day go both ways — one reason he devotedly documents their sweet interactions. Pop, too, gets a kick out of watching their photos and videos. “I think a lot of times people are quick to push down the technology aspect with the elderly and with the young," said Jason Zwolak, "but it's able to pull them together. With this, we’re able to drive Pop now and give him more reason to stay around.”
There's a lot of love in this tight-knit family. But there is still one controversy. “Pop loves Oklahoma,” said Jason Zwolak. ”He's convinced (Easton)'s playing football there ... I'm a Notre Dame fan, and I say he's playing hockey."
Only time will tell which jersey Easton will wear, but one thing's for sure — he's got a big fan in his great-grandpa.