Mother’s Day separations frustrating but ‘worth it’ if it saves lives

Joseph Bauer calls himself an unabashed mother’s boy — the type who sees a mug or T-shirt that reads “World’s Best Mom” and immediately pictures Pam Bauer.

“She’s the best,” Joseph Bauer said. “She’s great with my kids. She’s always been the person there for me. She has a huge heart. She’s caring. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

But Joseph Bauer won’t get to hug his mom and might not even see her in person due to the coronavirus, though he’s tempted to drive from his Centerville home to visit her in Dublin and sit on the back deck at an acceptable social distance.

» MOTHER’S DAY GUIDE: Carryout specials from Dayton-area restaurants

The Bauers aren’t alone. More than eight in 10 Americans intend to celebrate Mother’s Day today, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation, whether it’s in-person or virtually.

About 38 percent said they are very likely to stick to a virtual celebration, the survey says, while 46 percent want a traditional outing, brunch or other activity.

And 78 percent of people said it’s important to mark Mother’s Day this year because of the pandemic.

Pam Bauer works at the front desk at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She takes all the necessary precautions to avoid COVID-19, Joseph Bauer said, but both mother and son are immunocompromised.

“I don’t want to get my mom sick. My mom doesn’t want to get me sick. As I told my wife when all of this started, I know this isn’t going to be easy. I know this is going to be tough. I know this is a ton of hardship. But if we make it through this without killing grandma, this is all worth it.”

Mother’s Day will test the wills of the Bauers and many people. Stay at home or visit mom? Here’s how others are dealing with that question.

Hands tied

This holiday will be doubly difficult for Mary Rose Zink, of Loveland, because her 90-year-old mother Julie Zink and 57-year-old sister Fran Zink, who has Down syndrome, both are quarantined at St. Leonard, a senior community in Centerville.

Mary Rose Zink can see her sister through the window on the first floor, but her mom stays on the third floor of a different building.

» DINING OUT: Oregon District restaurant offers Mother’s Day brunch

“What’s unusual is Fran was born on Mother’s Day,” Mary Rose Zink said, “so her birthday usually coincides with Mother’s Day. She and mother think that’s a big deal.”

Mary Rose Zink calls her mom as many as three times a day, but Julie Zink doesn’t like FaceTime. This is the first year she’s living in total assisted living, and it’ll be the first time Mary Rose Zink hasn’t been able to keep up her tradition of planting her mom’s flower and herb garden.

“This is the first year really I feel my hands are tied behind my back,” Mary Rose Zink said, “because there’s so little I can do.”

Adjusted plans

Marilyn and Mark Dues returned to their home in Beavercreek in early May after a three-month stay in Sarasota, Fla. They drove past Cincinnati, where their daughter Elena Dues lives, but did not stop because they plan to quarantine for 14 days at home.

Not getting to spend Mother’s Day together isn’t a big deal for the family, which got used to missing holidays when Mark Dues was in the Air Force. He’s a retired lieutenant colonel.

“We’ve had many delayed holidays,” Marilyn Dues said. “They’re just as wonderful.”

Marilyn and Mark Dues will get together with their daughter when their quarantine ends and celebrate the way they always do.

“When we go down to see her, there’s a bowling alley and a Mexican restaurant in the same complex,” Marilyn Dues said. “It’s really fun. We’ll go bowling and then have a Mexican dinner. Since things are closed up, she said she has a Wii (video game system) that has bowling, and then we can go get Mexican food and then bowl in the living room and have our dinner.”

Frustrating times

Mike Manley, of Springfield, planned to visit his mom Theresa Manley, 94, a couple days before Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t going to be a normal visit. In typical years, he would go out to brunch with her and bring her tulips.

Theresa Manley, who lives in Shadyside, Ohio, south of Wheeling., W.Va., came down with a non-COVID sickness two weeks ago and entered the hospital a week ago before being transferred to a care facility.

“We’ll at least get to see her through a window,” Mike Manley said. “The facility will mediate an online video chat. Mom has an iPad somewhere at home. We’ll get that set up and FaceTime or Skype.”

It’s not the best way of communicating because Theresa Manley has hearing issues.

“The whole isolation thing is understandable,” Mike Manley said, “but it’s still very frustrating.”

Weird situation

Andrea Jaworek moved back to her hometown, Vandalia, from Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband Tom Jaworek and two kids, Grant, 2, and Isla, 8 weeks, in April. They decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to try to buy a house during the pandemic. Instead they moved in with her parents, John and Lori Jevedon.

» CORONAVIRUS: Complete coverage

That means Andrea Jaworek will get to spend Mother’s Day with her mom, but it’s a different story for the rest of the family. They recent visited Tom Jaworek’s family at a park between Dayton and Cincinnati. Everyone parked their cars at a safe distance and wore masks as they talked. They plan to do the same with her sister’s family, who lives in Columbus.

“It’s weird for my mom because she has one kid here but can’t see the other kid,” Andrea Jaworek said.

Postponed celebration

Dan Thompson remembers Mother’s Day revolved around doing whatever his dad Mike Thompson wanted for his mom, Kitty Thompson, when he was a kid.

“Whether that was breakfast in bed or making sure everything was clean,” Dan Thompson said, “Dad was always the one who made sure we were spoiling mom on that day since she spoiled us the other 364.”

COVID COVERAGE: Pediatricians urge parents to keep up with well visits

Dan Thompson and his wife Valerie Thompson are 2006 University of Dayton graduates who now live in Durham, N.C. Both of their moms, Kitty Thompson and Debra Warner, live in Cleveland.

“I’m a mama’s boy,” Dan Thompson said, “and my wife is a little mama’s girl. Both of our moms are widows.”

Kitty Thompson and Warner drove to North Carolina together to see their kids in early February but will remain at home on this Mother’s Day because of the pandemic. Dan Thompson had planned to take his mom to the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day and still plans to do that whenever baseball returns or whenever fans are allowed to attend.

COVID-19 has made them hesitant to even have gifts delivered to their mothers. For now, the Mother’s Day celebration can wait.

“The celebration we’ll go all out on is when we all feel comfortable traveling again and being around our moms,” Dan Thompson said. “We’ll do something special.”

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