After sad Mother's Day 2020, vaccines offer sweet reunions

This time around, vaccinations and abiding by post-shot waiting periods have brought more security and comfort to bring on the hugs and kisses for sweet in-person — and indoor — reunions.

Posted: May 1, 2021 11:03 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — When Leland Stein heads to his 93-year-old mother’s senior living facility for Mother’s Day, he’ll have flowers in hand, a bottle of bubbly and a year’s worth of hugs.

“I miss Leland’s visits very much,” said Sondra Green, a retired Vassar College drama professor who counts Meryl Streep among her former students. “I’m just very grateful for his presence.”

Many moms, grandmothers and their offspring around the U.S. will be equally thrilled. They were forced to hold off on the physical joys of Mother’s Day last year amid pandemic fears and restrictions. This time around, vaccinations and abiding by post-shot waiting periods have brought more security and comfort to bring on the hugs and kisses for sweet in-person — and indoor — reunions.

Of course, not everyone will feel that joy. There are those mourning for mothers lost to COVID-19, and others who are refraining from socializing in person until they, too, can get vaccinated.

During the pandemic, the 64-year-old Stein and his elegant mom have met just once, about six months ago outside of her Brookdale Senior Living location in downtown Manhattan. He couldn’t keep away, particularly since Green lost her husband just months before the pandemic took hold, but it was a long trip from his home in Arlington, Massachusetts, for a brief visit on the lawn.

Green’s three other sons live in the West, too far to make a Mother’s Day trip.

Stein, too, has been feeling the separation and the sting of isolation. At the start of the pandemic in mid-March 2020, the performance space he manages, the Regent Theatre in Arlington, was shut down as the world headed into emergency mode.

“It was Friday the 13th,” he recalled. “We had a sold-out show at the theater and the rug was pulled out from under us. I had just lost a relationship, so I lost my relationship, my community, my family. That was a lot to deal with and I have to say, having my mom still around was very helpful. My mom was cool, calm and collected.”

Raising four boys, Green joked, “you have to stay calm.”

Heather Krug, 49, in Los Angeles hasn’t seen her extrovert of a mother, Brenda Krug, in a year and a half. Brenda, too, lives in a senior living community, on the other side of the country in the Long Island hamlet of Woodbury, New York.

“She’s been pretty much without family throughout this,” said Krug, who has a sister in the Boston area. “I knew as soon as I was able to get the vaccine I would feel more comfortable about flying but also that I wouldn’t be bringing COVID to her or anybody in her community. It’s been pretty tough.”

The two will mark Mother’s Day and the 81-year-old Brenda’s June birthday at the same time. And, bonus, Heather will meet Brenda’s boyfriend for the first time after Heather’s dad died a couple years ago.

“They met during COVID, which is a good thing because it’s kept her spirits up. It’s the first person she’s dated since my father passed,” Heather said. “I’m sure she has a list of things she needs me to do. One is get her on Zoom because that’s been an issue, but she’s handling everything much better than me.”

Heather’s sister managed a two-hour rendezvous with their mom over the summer for a restaurant meal outdoors, but she has also kept her distance to be safe. A high school friend of Heather’s on Long Island assisted Brenda, who still works as an interior designer, when she came down with COVID-19 in the chaotic early days of the pandemic.

Brenda, who is also missing her recently departed dog, was excited for her up-close Mother’s Day.

“I only saw my girls and grandchildren on FaceTime. It’s not the same, you know,” she said. “We’re definitely a hugging kind of family.”

Maricela Waugh, a 30-something relationship consultant in Los Angeles known professionally as Spicy Mari, has a huge Mother’s Day surprise for her mom, Marta. Marta, who has been on the job in San Diego as an essential worker for FedEx throughout the pandemic, has wanted a grandchild for years.

She’s about to get her wish. Waugh is pregnant.

“She’s going to be flabbergasted,” said Waugh, the oldest of three siblings and the first to be expanding her family.

“It’s the ultimate gift,” Waugh said. “We’re extremely close. I tell my mother everything and it’s been really hard because I don’t really know what to do. I’ve been asking her a lot of hypothetical questions like, ‘When did you start getting stretchmarks?’”

The two haven’t seen each other since April last year, when they got together for a quick meal out.

“We’ve done a few FaceTimes and only from the chest up as this baby bump has grown. But she’s been like, oh you must be gaining the quarantine 15,” Waugh said.

One thing’s for certain, she said: “I know she’s going to cry. My mom is such a crier.”

Mari, who has chosen not to get vaccinated during her pregnancy, plans a brunch outdoors at a Malibu restaurant with mom and other vaccinated loved ones to announce her son’s upcoming arrival.

“I’ve missed everyone so I’m super excited to bring everyone together for Mother’s Day,” she said.

For months, the pandemic kept Janice Shear, 67, from her 41-year-old daughter, Meredith, who has Down syndrome and lives just 15 miles away in a group home run by the nonprofit AHRC Nassau in Rockville Centre, New York.

Meredith’s 40th birthday party, with more than 100 guests, was canceled in March last year and the home barred visitors, while Janice’s senior living community asked residents to isolate. Janice would make drive-by visits in the car and wave, rather than their usual twice-a-week visits and weekends home for Meredith pre-pandemic.

Last July, restrictions loosened slightly and they managed regular meetups. Now, both are vaccinated, along with other family members. They plan a Mother’s Day barbecue at the nearby home of Meredith’s sister and her family.

“Last year it was sad. Meredith was my first child. She made me a mother, and pulling up in my car and just seeing her on the front step and then driving away, it was hard,” Janice said.

Mother’s Day came early for Vanessa Gordon, a Sag Harbor, New York, mom of a 3-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.

Gordon, 32, and her husband have been vaccinated, along with her 87-year-old grandmother and an aunt. She hadn’t seen her grandmother in three years, so decided on a trip to The Villages, near Orlando, Florida, to combine her husband’s birthday, Mother’s Day and Easter on March 28. Gordon sees her mother regularly; she wasn’t fully vaccinated and didn’t make the trip.

The group dined out at a country club and caught up with some old friends, all of whom had been vaccinated. They visited Disney World, organized Easter baskets for the kids, baked a birthday cake and cooked meals together.

“I was thrilled,” Gordon said. “It was wonderful. When you don’t see somebody for such a long time, it’s almost as if time never went by. That three years, in a way, disappeared.”

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2086836

Reported Deaths: 52989
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings27765110329
Queens2744939860
Suffolk1995923381
Nassau1824223163
Bronx1815006537
New York1369774457
Westchester1288972268
Erie885071778
Richmond741091812
Monroe669861076
Orange47908810
Rockland46697957
Onondaga38132671
Dutchess29214444
Albany24455350
Oneida22283505
Niagara19721363
Broome18381357
Saratoga15136166
Ulster13788251
Schenectady13009200
Rensselaer11123140
Putnam1054291
Chautauqua8820141
Chemung7570135
Oswego746190
Ontario731992
Steuben6794143
Sullivan655872
St. Lawrence652496
Cayuga623192
Jefferson595367
Wayne566467
Cattaraugus562088
Genesee5365123
Herkimer5114107
Clinton481033
Madison448288
Livingston438958
Fulton434891
Tompkins425651
Montgomery4209123
Columbia4018102
Cortland377360
Tioga371362
Warren359257
Wyoming352452
Allegany345184
Chenango341276
Otsego340347
Greene337077
Washington309555
Orleans306183
Lewis271634
Franklin251812
Delaware232137
Seneca198356
Schoharie166717
Essex157826
Yates116926
Schuyler103314
Hamilton3072
Unassigned12248
Out of NY0239
Utica
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 65°
Oneonta
Partly Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 66°
Herkimer
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 65°
Old Forge
Partly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve