Susan Lannom placed flowers on the window ledge outside of her 94-year-old mother’s room at Morningside of Gallatin on Saturday afternoon as the wind pushed around the balloons she brought early for Mother’s Day.

While they talk on the phone multiple times every day, the two have not physically met in person since March 11 due to statewide visitor restrictions for assisted living facilities meant to protect residents from exposure to COVID-19.

“I want to take her and go shopping since that’s what she loves to do,” Lannom said while holding back tears. “I want to bring her over to the house for dinner and have her join us. We just took it all for granted (before this).”

On Saturday, families and other members of the community held handmade signs and waved at residents through windows as they took part in a foot parade outside the assisting living community for Mother’s Day.

While it was a “different kind” of celebration this year, Morningside of Gallatin Executive Director Stephanie Harville said that all 37 residents have been “real champs” during the quarantine.

“I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see their faces light up when we do a Zoom (video) call or they have somebody outside their window,” Harville said. “The staff has been really great at creating reasons to socialize and visit. It’s just not the same as their great grandchildren coming in and sitting in their lap, hugging their neck and kissing their cheek.”

In late March, Gov. Bill Lee issued Executive Order 17 which prohibits people from visiting nursing homes, retirement homes, long-term care or assisted-living facilities unless they are providing essential assistance or are visiting a resident receiving imminent end-of-life care. 

The restrictions are set to expire on May 30 without an extension.

Steve Graves said he is looking forward to being able to bring his 87-year-old mother Ruth Hilda Graves home to visit with their family whenever that may be. 

“We haven’t been able to see her other than through a window,” he said while standing outside her room while surrounded by his children and grandchildren. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do though. We miss seeing her.”

For Douglass, being able to participate in a video call Saturday with family who live outside Tennessee “meant the world” to the soon to be 95-year-old.

“Seeing all of them and seeing their faces just made my day,” Douglass said afterwards. “It was wonderful. Sometimes when you’re here by yourself you get all teary eyed, but I’ve tried to work through all of that. This is only temporary.”

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