On last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs via FaceTime. This time, Jean Codianni flew to New Jersey from Los Angeles to surprise her 74-year-old mother after they were both vaccinated against the disease that has stolen countless hugs and kisses around the world.
“You forget what your mother smells like, what she looks like. It’s like she never looks as beautiful as the last time you saw her, ”said Codianni. “We understand how privileged we are, how lucky we are. Hundreds of thousands of people are not allowed to celebrate Mother’s Day or celebrate it under a veil of mourning. “
Joyful reunions between vaccinated parents and children across the country marked this year’s Mother’s Day, the second celebrated during the coronavirus pandemic. Some families, separated by concerns about the transmission of the virus, saw each other for the first time in more than a year, encouraged by their vaccinations, and many others grieved for mothers lost to the virus.
For Pam Grimes, Mother’s Day remains a fuzzy but “scary and depressing” memory last year that blurs along with the rest of the early months of the pandemic. In contrast, as they gathered at their Panama City, Florida home to celebrate this year, their vaccinated adult grandchildren hugged, laughed and teased each other.
“The whole world felt better,” said Grimes.
Historian Andy Verhoff didn’t see his mother for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years. But on Mother’s Day he drove from his Columbus, Ohio home to spend a day with her in rural Putnam County, Ohio, stopping at the first historic marker they’d worked on. Both mother and son were vaccinated, which gave them the confidence to take off their masks – which felt like a normal day before the pandemic, Verhoff said.
“We never let the mask get in the way,” Verhoff said. “It was just nice that my glasses didn’t fog up.”
Some long-term care facilities across the country prepared for the special day by allowing face-to-face visits, especially as some states have relaxed visiting rules in recent months as vaccination rates have risen and case numbers have fallen.
In a suburb of Detroit, people with dementia have recently been able to see visitors in person at Addington Place. But the big change on Sunday was her ability to go to a special meal with family members and return without quarantine. Mothers also received roses from the staff.
“Residents can now feel the energy as families walk in,” said Kelley Fulkerson, director of the Addington in Northville office. “There’s excitement among staff – and tears and excitement among families waiting to see loved ones.”
St. Joseph of Harahan – an assisted living facility in Harahan, Louisiana – hosted a parking lot parade Friday, during which dozen of cars honked and family members shouted good wishes for Mother’s Day.
Masked residents sat behind duct tape and waved to loved ones who, in some cases, had been waiting for more than a year. The workers distributed balloons and flowers.
Cathedral Village, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Philadelphia, has planned weekend visits for Mother’s Day, supervisor Hannah Han said. Social workers helped some families who wanted to bring people home to celebrate. Visits to private rooms required masks and dresses.
Mary Daniel, who took on a dishwasher job last year to see her husband at a long-term care facility in Jacksonville, Florida, said holidays are important in keeping family traditions alive. She said spouses and others should be recognized as essential carers, providing emotional support and access.
“We are seeing progress when people are allowed to see and visit loved ones or bring them home on vacation, but we still see individual institutions that refuse to follow federal guidelines on visiting permits,” said Daniel, who formed a group called Caregivers for compromise because isolation kills.
Still, the virus limited vacation that year for Winslow Swan, who served as the primary caregiver of his 83-year-old mother in Ellijay, Georgia, until health problems last year forced him to move her to a nursing home in town during the year in the pandemic.
New COVID-19 cases in the past month have seen the facility tighten its visiting restrictions, and Swan is unlikely to see his mother for this year’s vacation despite considering an impromptu window visit.
“It’s sad,” he said. “I know the room it’s in and there is a chance I can find it and see it through the window.”