Seniors anticipate spending Mother's Day with family after difficult year apart

Many seniors are looking forward to spending Mother's Day with their families after being detached from their loved ones due to the pandemic.

Susan Lindenbaum, a 105-year-old woman who lives at Belmont Village Senior Living in Westwood, was unsure of when she would be able to be in the same space physically as her daughter, Barbara Wellisch, due to safety protocols during the pandemic.

"Last year was so hopeless and so very frightening and terrifying and sad. I couldn't see my daughter. I did see her through the door. We threw kisses but other than that, we couldn't touch. We couldn't hug," said Lindenbaum.

It was the same ordeal when her grandchildren and great grandchildren would visit.

"I could throw kisses to them, with tears, it was terrible. I'm 105 years old. Last year, I was sure it was my last and it was another reason for the tears. It's such a rotten ending but my mood has elevated considerably," said Lindenbaum.

It was difficult for Wellisch too.

"It was really weird. The only thing I can say is when you heard all the horror stories about people who could not see their elderly parents at all and had no contact, we felt kind of lucky that we could at least see her [through the door of the facility]. We knew she was in incredibly good hands. The Belmont did an unbelievable job of taking care of her," said Wellisch.

Wellisch said she has a special bond with her mother.  

"I'm 77 years old so I've had a mother for obviously my whole life. It's very unusual to be my age and still have a parent. My mother and I have always been extremely close and I don't know exactly why except to say we just get each other. We have a great bond. We've always been very close. Sometimes I'm the mother now and I'm sort of bossy but then she'll take back the reigns and we switch back and forth," said Wellisch.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

Now that Wellisch and Lindenbaum are both vaccinated, and the Belmont senior living facility has a combined average of over 90% of their residents and staff vaccinated, they are able to spend more time together, and are planning a special Mother's Day celebration for Sunday.

"This year, we're having a wonderful get together with family and friends. There's gonna be nine so we don't want to exceed the limit, but it's going to be a lunch. It's going to be fun. It'll be multigenerational. It'll be what every other Mother's Day had been except for last year so  we're sort of making up for lost time," said Wellisch.

Wellisch, who is also a mother, is excited for the family time.

"Just to have the family there, the friends and have a normal fun lunch, I'm really looking forward to that. As much as it's kind of a hallmark holiday, it's so special to have a mother at my age, at any age, that you love, that you get along with, that you revere and value, and I think for all of us mothers, we would hope our children would feel the same way especially when we're very, very old and still beloved," said Wellisch.

Lindenbaum said she is grateful for the Belmont Village Senior Living facility and the staff which cared for residents during the pandemic to keep them safe from contracting the virus.

"I am so lucky. Everyone who lives here is so fortunate to have the opportunity to live in these surroundings so cared for," said Lindenbaum.

However, the best Mother's Day gift for Lindenbaum and Wellisch will be spending time together with family.

"Barbara is the most wonderful blessing that I have in my life. She's here for me, all the time," said Lindenbaum.

"We're all so relieved that my mom made it through the year and she's still here because we really had no idea if that would end up being her last Mother's Day," said Wellisch.

Lindenbaum's son passed away at 40 years old. She has three grandchildren, great-grandchildren and two "bonus daughters" from her late husband who check in on her regularly as well.