Most Mother’s Days, Carol Berry’s children come to visit her at the Veterans Homes of California-Redding. Hugs. Lunch. Time together.
Not last year’s, though. The COVID-19 pandemic prohibited Mother’s Day visits in 2020, just as it did for all other holidays and special days at the eight homes owned and operated by the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The whole world was turned upside down,” Carol said, who served in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1960. Instead, they chatted virtually, or by phone or by text. “It just was not the same, we just had to go along with what it was,” she said.
This weekend, however, Mother’s Day should seem more like old times for many moms – Carol included – in many places. She’ll get to see her children, including son and Army veteran Joseph Berry, who also lives at the Redding Home. Like many of the Homes, Redding now allows visitations by appointment while continuing to follow health and safety protocols.
“I’ve gotten to see her a couple of times,” said Joseph, 60, who served in the Army as an infantryman. He was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, 1979-1984; he came to live at the Home two months ago, before the restrictions began to ease. “A couple of times, I’ve gone for a walk and tapped on her window to say ‘Hi’ to her,” he said.
They can now visit face to face. Carol made an appointment and was able to see him Saturday, where he lives on the other side of the complex. “Now that it’s opening up, we’ll be able to visit more often,” Joseph said.
Today, daughter Judith Rivas will bring a picnic lunch and they will see each other for the first time in more than a year. “We might also watch a movie and play cards,” Carol said.
Carol Berry moved into the Redding Home in 2015, three years before the deadly and devastating Camp fire destroyed the town of Paradise – more than 14,000 homes, which included the one she had lived in and the one Judith lived in at the time. Judith now lives in Yuba City, just two hours from her mom and brother.
For the past 15 months, two hours might as well have been 2,000 hours. That is changing now. Or, better yet, it is changing back.
Hugs, or at least fist bumps. Lunch. Time together again. Mom and her children.