Family reunites after covid restrictions loosened


SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– If there’s anyone overjoyed to see restrictions loosening here in Springfield, it’s the families of those living in senior living communities.

One woman finally gets to see her mother up close again, and she says the pandemic has made her cherish those moments even more – especially after the journey she’s been through just to talk or be with her mom.

In 2019, Celeste Lanier learned her parents have dementia, so she moved them into a memory care community.

“They always had activities. We would come and do those at night and during the day and just always had a presence,” Lanier said.

The pandemic changed everything.

“They just totally locked it down.”

Visiting became tougher when Lanier’s father Toby passed away in April of 2020 for reasons unrelated to covid.

She was allowed to see her mom, Angie Staggs, the day it happened. But she couldn’t come back.

“That was extremely hard, not to be with her while she was mourning my dad and I was mourning,” Lanier said. “When you really need your parent and she really needed her kids.”

For a while, Lanier could only FaceTime with her.

“That was better than nothing.”

As case numbers dropped, it turned into window visits. Then conversations outside where they were masked and separated by plexiglass.

Eventually, she could go inside again – with limitations.

“Still distanced,” Lanier said. “No touching. You don’t realize how that hurts that you can’t hug your mom.”

But the situation has gotten better.

“I just am giddy.”

Lanier now takes Staggs out to lunch and the lake once a week.

“She loves to go to the lake and talk to the ducks,” Lanier said. “I can’t even get her to talk to me because she’s like ‘did you see that duck over there? There’s six of them.”

They laugh and hug, just like old times.

“I’m thrilled to death that I get to see her now, that I actually get to put her in my car. It’s been so nice to just pretty much be normal. She’s happy and that’s all that matters to me.”

Lanier recently took her mom out to celebrate her 86 birthday. Her sister Natalie came in from Texas and it was her first time seeing Staggs in a year.

Lanier says her mom didn’t recognize Natalie at first, but eventually she did. It was a great reunion.

Families aren’t the only ones being affected by these restrictions lifting; staff have been feeling the changes as well.

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