We’ve all grown to love the grandfather who cooked a nice dinner for his grandchildren of which only one attended; our hearts broke for him. The story doesn’t end there though, here’s an update of what the grandpa has to say!
It was a seemingly heartbreaking moment that prompted an outpouring of emotion from millions of people online.
A granddaughter took to Twitter to reveal her loving ‘Papaw’ had cooked up a feast for all six of his grandchildren, only for all but one to reject his dinner invite.
The image of the dejected retiree slumped over his dining table eating one of his home-made burgers alone went viral – and for a second ‘Sad Papaw’ captured America’s heart.
Now – thanks to Daily Mail Online – the family at the center of this internet sensation has been reunited.
Papaw Kenny Harmon – a retired union iron worker – finally got to sit down and eat with all SIX of his grandchildren.
We arranged for Kenny to see his flock and enjoy a buffet of chicken, meatloaf and veggies – no burgers! – at the Cowboy Corner restaurant in Henryetta, Oklahoma. It was smiles all round.
The grey-haired 66-year-old was in good spirits and chowed down with grandchildren Kelsey, 19, Kaleb, 21, Brock, 20, Brody, 18, Brandon, 17 and youngest Bryn, age 12.
After a crazy few days the Harmons can’t quite believe the flood of attention they’ve received following what was meant to be an innocent, light-hearted tweet.
And speaking to Daily Mail Online, Papaw revealed he wasn’t quite as ‘sad’ as everybody seems to think.
‘I wasn’t like the picture showed, I have a solemn look sometimes, people say I don’t smile enough, but it’s my personality,’ he said with a twinkle in his eye.
‘When I have a cook out everybody is invited and it was mainly because of Kelsey being out of school.
‘It was gonna be burger night, a get together with the grandkids. I wanted everybody to be there but I don’t get upset about things.’
Kenny said it all started after he had gone to watch granddaughter Kelsey, 19, play softball the weekend before the dinner.
College student Kelsey plays at Division II Northeastern State in Oklahoma while studying biology.
‘She told me she might have a few days to come home, so I said “let me know and I’ll get this get together, I’ll cook something for us”,’ explains Kenny.
‘She called me on Wednesday morning and I called my son Ryan to bring his kids over.’
Papaw, who has three grown sons, six adopted children and six grandchildren, thought all the grandkids were coming so he got to preparing his famous burgers.
Then Kelsey, who was home in Washington, Oklahoma for spring break, arrived alone and posted her ‘Sad Papaw’ tweet.
Accompanying a grim-faced photo of Kenny, she wrote: ‘Dinner with papaw tonight… He made 12 burgers for all six grandkids and I’m the only one who showed. love him [sic].’
Her brother, car salesman Kaleb – the eldest of Kenny’s grandchildren – was a late show, arriving after the tweet was already whirling its way around the internet.
But that still left four cousins missing.
And Kenny reveals that the reason they didn’t show, wasn’t teenage angst or a family row, as you might expect, but in fact a forgetful father.
‘My son Ryan just plain forgot,’ explains Kenny.
‘I called him to ask whether he and his kids would be coming over but he was busy at work and forgot to tell them. These things happen, so I wasn’t too sad, it was a misunderstanding.
‘So I cooked hamburgers that evening then Kelsey came in first then Kaleb came in later and it wound up being just me, Kaleb, Kelsey and my dad.’
Kelsey says she didn’t expect the reaction she got when she posted the tweet.
The incredible response saw the original post retweeted more than 84,000 times and favored nearly 150,000 times within 24 hours, prompting numerous memes and responses.
Papaw’s image has even been Photoshopped onto the cover of Drake’s album cover for Take Care.
Kelsey herself has since picked up 45,000 Twitter followers and hundreds of messages from well-wishers and cranks.
‘It’s been crazy, I’ve been getting a lot of attention,’ the college student explains.
‘It was supposed to be a joke for my cousins, like ‘where you at’. It was just a joke in all honesty, but it got out of hand.’
Kelsey – sat amongst all her cousins who are making fun of her as she talks – said seeing Papaw is always ‘special’.
‘It’s about spending time together, we grew up together, we love being around each other… most of the time.
‘When we get together it’s a lot of fun, but like any other cousins we do argue and we do have our fights, but at the end of the day we do love each other.
‘My Papaw is great, he’s a good guy, he’s always been there supporting us, he likes to take pictures, he’s always taking pictures of us.
‘He’s very funny, very sarcastic… America’s favorite Papaw, we love him.’
It’s a Harmon family tradition to get together around the dinner table and Kenny makes a good host.
‘There’s normally the grill if the weather’s permitted,’ he said.
‘I like to cook all kinds of meat, pork chops, chicken, steaks and burgers of course.
‘We have been doing this for years and years, it’s always been a big deal for us, but with everybody scattered the way they are we can’t get together as often as we used to.
‘Kaleb does long hours at the dealership selling cars, Brock has been out of town a lot because he’s been at college, and then there’s Kelsey at college.’
Kenny says he enjoys bonding with his grandchildren and cherishes every minute he spends with them.
‘I remember the day Kaleb was born, our first grandchild, it started out, all very, very special, a lot of good times,’ he recalls fondly.
‘I like taking the kids to watch sports. It’s been ball games – football, basketball, baseball, softball and trips to Disneyland,’ he says with a smile.
‘A family tradition was to take every grandchild to Disneyland for their second birthday. We’re all really close.’
Kenny, who separated from his wife and mother of his children in 2008, says he first got wind of his new found fame from his adopted teenage daughter who rang him from California where she lives with her mother.
‘She called me giggling, she had some friends with her, and she said I need to call Ellen (Degeneres). I didn’t pay attention to her as I didn’t know what was going on.
‘Then a few hours later Ryan, my son, called me and I could hear in the background there, with everybody laughing and going on, and Ryan said you need to call Ellen, you’re all over the internet, this thing exploded.’
But was Thursday night before Kenny it fully sunk in.
Now he says he’s been making the most of his national celebrity.
He’s even launched his own brand of merchandise – t-shirts, caps, pillow cases and phone holders – all bearing the ‘Sad Papaw’ photo and the phrase: ‘I ate a burger with Sad Papaw.’
He sported the t-shirt and cap for our photo shoot, and of course there’s his own website, www.sadpapaw.com.
‘It’s been a lot of fun, I’ve had people call me I haven’t heard from in a while, the feedback I’ve got has been really, really good, my friends are going crazy about it,’ he said.
Kenny hopes to capitalize on the wave of good will and has organized a cook out in Purcell, Oklahoma on Saturday, March 26 at which he hopes to meet some of Papaw’s new fans.
‘We’ve got about three acres to work with and I know there’s gonna be at least three or four thousand people turn up,’ he said excitedly.
‘Should be quite a day, I’m gonna cook some burgers and mix and mingle.’
As the family gets ready to leave the restaurant they give each other a hug goodbye.
Kelsey says she misses her Papaw while at college and reflects on the positives that have come out of the whole saga.
‘The biggest thing out of this is that people have become very aware that they need to spend more time with their family,’ she said.
‘I’ve gotten so many messages, telling me that my post made them call their grandparents, go see them, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we need to take out of this that people realize they need to go see their family if they have one.’
Cousin Brock added: ‘They’re not gonna be there forever, you need to cherish them.’
This just melts my heart!