Many mothers and grandmothers are reuniting with their loved ones for the first in over a year — just in time for Mother’s Day. Numerous happy scenes are being played out in long-term care facilities across the country. 

It’s a stark contrast to the shadow COVID-19 cast upon the industry last year due to federal visitation restrictions that prevented traditional celebrations and forced facilities to get creative.

“You realize how important the concept of family is,” said Judy Gardetto, 84, a resident at Newcastle Place, a long-term care facility that offers skilled nursing, rehabilitation, assisted and independent living in Mequon, WI. 

Gardetto only had the option of phone calls, FaceTime and Zoom to connect with family for Mother’s Day 2020. This year, there will still be some phone calls; she won’t get to see each of her five kids and 13 grandchildren — but unlike last year, she’ll also get some face-to-face interaction. 

“I’ll start the day at my son and daughter-in-law’s for brunch and end the day at my daughter’s for dinner. The rest of the family will probably FaceTime. That’ll be my celebration,” she said.

Frances Fulford, 84, a vaccinated North Carolina nursing home resident, received her first hug in more than a year this week — from her daughter, Mary Rose.

“Oh my God, we cried our eyes out,” recalled Rose. 

“It was great and I loved it,” added Fulford.

Logan Dunn, executive director of the Crystal Bluffs Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Morehead City, NC, where Fulford lives, said that to witness families reuniting ahead of the holiday has been endearing.  

“To see the expressions on their faces,” he said, “especially when they have been able to touch someone they haven’t been able to in over a year, it’s priceless.”