Sisters reunite for Mother’s Day during COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic kept families apart for months. One year later, with the virus more under control and with an effective vaccine, more families and loved ones are able to gather in smaller events.
Sylvia Medina, Rosa Gomez, and Maggie Flores are a close trio of sisters who were kept apart by the virus. Since safety guidelines are less restrictive, they decided it was okay to hold an outdoor gathering for Mother’s Day on May 9.
During the pandemic, the trio was only able to talk via text messaging or facetime. Occasionally they saw each other during drive-through celebrations.
Medina, the youngest of the three, began preparing for the reunion several weeks prior to the event. She searched endlessly for the perfect gift for her sisters, eventually deciding on light pajama sets for each sister.
“I know they love PJs,” says Medina as she carefully picked out unique pajama sets from Costco. “I hope they like them. I wanted to get them each a different colored set. I hope this shows them how much they mean to me.”
Gomez also prepared for the celebration several days in advance. Since the small gathering was happening at her house, she organized the menu, drinks, decorations and music.
She wanted to ensure that everyone who came would be safe from the virus.
“We didn’t get together during the pandemic because we wanted to be safe,” said Gomez. “We’re going to continue that streak. I miss my family, but I want them to be safe so we can get together again soon.”
The host asked her guests to wear masks if they were not able to socially distance themselves from each other.
Gomez thought carefully about how to meet safety guidelines. By having the celebration outside, she knew the risk of her family getting sick was significantly reduced.
She also measured six feet between each seat to meet social distancing guidelines. To ensure nobody would sit too close together on the outdoor couch, she placed pillows on the seats to signal that it was meant to keep people apart.
The host decided to use a “spring theme” for the decorations. She found pastel table covers and ornaments with hummingbirds and butterflies. Her hard work was noted by her sisters.
“Wow, I love the details she put into picking the decorations,” said Flores. “I’m touched by how much work she put into this, even though there aren’t a lot of people coming.”
For past celebrations and gatherings, Gomez knew that her family loved barbecues. She and her husband cooked pork, chicken, and beef ribs with beans and rice. For drinks, she served himika or water.
“This is the first meal we have been able to have together in a while. I want it to be special,” she said.
Her family appreciated her efforts to make the celebration memorable. They all agreed that the meal was delicious.
Flores was so excited she arrived at the party first. Although each sister only lives less than two miles away from each other.
“We are a very close family — physically and emotionally,” said Flores. “We grew up together and looked out for each other. Now, as adults, we still have each other’s back.”
The last time Flores saw her sisters was for her drive-through birthday party. Her two sisters organized a large caravan of family and friends to honk their horns and wish Flores a happy birthday.
“I feel like whenever we see each other now, it’s going to be emotional,” said Medina. “We never know when we will see each other again.”
When Medina arrived, she noticed that they were all wearing a blue outfit. She joked that they were all in sync with each other and that it proved how close they are to each other.
As she presented her sisters with their gifts, they were each moved by her thoughtfulness and thanked her profusely.
“We only mentioned these once,” exclaimed Gomez.
Medina talked about her work at Dooley Elementary School in Long Beach. She is concerned with students returning to school and if they will be able to enforce the mask mandates.
“The kids touch everything and never wash their hands. I’m constantly sanitizing around them to make sure I don’t get the virus,” she said.
Gomez said she is worried about her granddaughter, Amelia.
“For such a young girl to grow up in a time like this is terrible. I hope things only get better for her from here. I want her to have a bright future, and I hope she doesn’t remember what a terrible time this was,” said the grandmother.
The trio talked for hours into the night, with Medina staying the latest until 9 pm.
“We’ve realized just how important family is,” the youngest sister said. “We recognized just how much we mean to each other, and we’re going to be more appreciative of the time we have together.”
The close-knit family plans to gather again soon.
“We would really like to get together for the Fourth of July,” said Flores. “It’s such an important time in the country, and we’d like to mark it with something special.”
“It also gives us an excuse to barbecue,” chimed in Medina.
Medina was sad to leave her sisters at the end of the night but hoped to see them again soon.
“I stayed so long because I didn’t want it to end,” she said tearfully. “I can’t wait to see them again. I miss them very much.”