On any regular Mother’s Day, Gina Powers would enjoy her favourite movies while her now 12-year-old son, Patrick Ham, would prepare her a breakfast of bacon and eggs. He’d give her a big hug — huge even, he says — that would make her beam from cheek to cheek.
"Then, we’d go on a walk to a nice area. And maybe we’d even do something else that was relaxing and fun," he said. "Just anything to make her smile and enjoy our nice day with each other."
But this past Sunday wasn’t a regular Mother’s Day. In fact, it was the second one during the COVID-19 pandemic, complete with a new set of public-health restrictions that came into effect that very day.
And for Ham, it was the second one he’s spent apart from his mom, who he can’t see because she lives south of the border in Fargo.
So what’s Ham doing? "I’m spending it with my dad and we’ll probably just FaceTime her today," he said, which is exactly what he did when a Free Press photographer stopped by.
"It’s a bit sad," said Patrick’s father, James Ham, who’s separated from his wife and would have loved for his son to see his mom on Sunday. "In a perfect world, that’s something we could’ve easily done — I’d just drive there the way I’ve probably done like 230 times at least.
"But we’re trying to make the most of this situation and stay safe. And really, that’s all we can do right now."
Ham isn’t the only one in the province who celebrated the holiday this way. Many Manitobans told the Free Press they resorted to make-shift virtual plans and physically-distanced walks instead of a hug or a meal together with their loved ones in their homes.
Kelly Jamieson said it feels ages ago when the last Mother’s Day happened. She knows she didn’t do much of anything with her kids then, and she certainly didn’t want to risk their safety or hers this year either.
"We’re just walking in the park with the dog, masked up and metres apart," said Jamieson, joined by her daughter Courtney Thompson. "Then she’s sending me some dinner, which I’ll eat by myself. I really wish I could eat with her, but that just can’t happen."
Cindy Nicholls stayed at her place and tended to her garden instead of spending the day with her mother or four children who live in different provinces.
"It’s the new normal," she said, in an interview Sunday. "My mother passed away five years ago, so I can only wish I got to see her at all... I’m glad my husband’s still around though to cheer me up and lift me up today. He’s the family I can turn to."
Darlene Boehm agreed about ensuring each others’ safety but doesn’t think it’s fair that she can’t see her grandkids or kids when "people from other countries can arrive here and do what ever they wish."
Jen Stutsky made her mother breakfast — her favourite waffles to be exact. But she couldn’t do the regular barbecued meal they’d have with her Nana and Papa, so she followed up their breakfast promptly with an order of lunch picked up curbside at D Jay’s Restaurant.
Knowing new stringent restrictions would prevent families from meeting each other starting Mother’s Day, Bill Coe celebrated a day earlier. He bought dinner from Vanxai’s Restaurant for his family, while his kids chipped in for a Mother’s Day package from olive oil purveyor Frescolio.
Sarah Boulette did the same as the Hams — baking cupcakes on her own and then video-calling her grandson and children.
But for Caryle Stefura, she could only wish things were that easy with her mother Carole Campbell.
"My mother’s older and so we really worry with COVID," she said. "The only way I can see her is when I get something from Tim Hortons and I drop it off, then call her from the driveway to talk to her. That’s how Mother’s Day is, too."
It’s a "new tradition" Stefura isn’t keen about, but it’s something she’s grateful to have nonetheless.
"At the end of the day, I’m just glad we’re all doing our part to curb this scary spread of COVID-19 and we can see the light at the end of this," she said. "Let’s just all hope for next year to be normal."
Temur Durrani reports on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the Winnipeg Free Press.