WESTERLY — Angela Buonocore Augustyn hasn't seen her mom since Dec. 23, 2019. So today, on Mother's Day 2020, she plans to drive from her home in Vernon, Conn., to a parking lot — somewhere in Pawcatuck where she can be appropriately socially distanced — and wave to her mom. And blow kisses.
"At least I'll be able to lay my eyes on her," said Augustyn with a deep sigh.
"It's killing me," added Augustyn, a contract administrator for a global HVAC company who lives in Vernon with her husband, Greg, a schoolteacher. "It's definitely the longest we've ever been apart."
Augustyn's mom is Pawcatuck resident Rosemary Buonocore, a nurse at the Westerly Health Center, who's been tending to the needs of patients who've been isolated from their own loved ones since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Like so many others on Mother's Day in the time of COVID-19, Augustyn is trying to figure out how to celebrate her mom while following the protocols in place intended to halt the spread of the virus.
"I think of her and I just want to her hug her," said Augustyn. "I just instantly think of hugging her."
"She's so damn funny and cute," added Augustyn, who said she misses everything about her mom, including her cooking ... "her pies, her chicken cutlets, her manicotti and her broccoli casserole."
"Her broccoli casserole," said Augustyn with a laugh, "she'll kill me for saying that, but at this point I'd take a Mom Sandwich."
Augustyn, who has an older brother, Charlie, and a younger sister, Mary, said her mother always put her children first when the three were growing up.
"Her kids were always the most important thing," said Augustyn, a Westerly High School graduate. "And we all knew it."
For Amanda Sammataro-Barelli, who hasn't seen her mom face-to-face since mid-February, it's the giant hug she plans to give her mother that she's been thinking about this Mother's Day.
A computer science teacher at PS 92 in the Bronx, Sammataro-Barelli said on Mother's Day and every day, "unconditional love" are the words that first come to mind when she thinks of her mother, Margaret Sammataro, a lifelong Westerly resident.
"My mother has always been there for us," she said. "She used her own mother as a model and she gave and gives us unconditional love."
Sammataro, who retired in 2018 from the University of Rhode Island after a career in the Health Services department, is the daughter of the late Theresa and Louis Basile. She and her husband, David, ran the former Dino's restaurant in Misquamicut, for many years.
"She was a working mom," said Sammataro-Barelli, who graduated from Westerly High in 2001 and was inducted recently into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame. "But she always found the time to be there for us ... to be at our games and school events. She never, ever missed anything."
Sammataro-Barelli has one brother, Matthew, who lives in Virginia, with his wife, Rosy, and son, Vincent. She and her husband, Christopher Barelli, live in White Plains, N.Y., with their two daughters, Emma Theresa, 8, and Nora,3.
When Emma was born, Sammataro-Barelli said, her mom spent two weeks with her as she navigated new motherhood. Two weeks she'll never forget.
"She was a superwoman," said Sammataro-Barelli. "I needed so much support and she helped me with breastfeeding and emotional support ... with everything. She was the rock I needed. It was a fantastic bonding time for us."
And, added Sammataro-Barelli, her mother is funny. The two laugh together ... a lot.
And then there are her meatballs.
Sammataro, who once regaled TV show host Meredith Viera with stories about her homemade Italian meatballs when she was a contestant on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" has a reputation for meatballs, made from a recipe handed down from her own mother.
Sammataro-Barelli said there's not one big moment or special memory that comes to mind when she thinks of her mother on Mother's Day, but the "lifetime of little moments" the mother and daughter have shared.
"She's so passionate about everything and everybody," Sammataro-Barelli said.
While she tries hard to follow in her mom's footsteps, she said, she knows there's one area she totally falls short.
"No matter how hard I try, I know I'll never be able to replicate her meatballs," Sammataro-Barelli with a laugh.
For Daniel Lathrop of Westerly, the eldest of Cathy and John Lathrop's four sons, it's his mother's loyalty that comes to mind on this Mother's Day 2020.
"She always had our backs," said Lathrop, president of Lathrop Insurance Agency and older brother of James, Steven and Jack. "And she always kept us in line."
Lathrop's mom is Rhode Island native Cathy McGill Lathrop, a realtor with Waterfront Properties who has been involved with a number of organizations, including the Ocean Community YMCA, the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park and the Westerly Hospital. She also has a passion for a certain pastime.
"My mother loves playing cards," said Lathrop with a chuckle. "It's one of her favorite things."
Whether its Pitch, Canasta or Uno, he said, his mom is always up for a good game of cards, is uber-competetitive and is usually the champ.
"We always play when we're together," said Lathrop, who lives with his wife, Ali, and their two children; Matthew, 5, and Sam, 2, not too far from his parents. In pre-coronavirus times, they would all get together as a family at least once a week.
Since the social distancing protocols have been in play, they've been apart.
The boys have discovered how to FaceTime with their Gramma Cath, Lathrop said, "which is wonderful." And of course, they sit on the porch and wave to her whenever she walks by.
Mother's Day 2020 will be a big deal, he said. With the restrictions being eased and with small groups of five people now permissible, the Lathrops will be able to celebrate Mother's Day.
"I just want to thank her for always being there," he said.
For Devan McVeigh of Westerly, a server at the Olympia Tea Room, it's her mom's "amazing heart" that comes to mind when she thinks of Gerry McVeigh, the activities director at the Westerly Health Center and a fitness instructor at the Ocean Community YMCA's Westerly branch.
"She's selfless," said Wall, who has two sisters, Audra and Justine, and one brother, Frank. "My dad died when I was 14, so she was pretty much a single mom for a long time."
"She still makes sure everyone is okay and well taken care of," said Wall, the mother of Kevin, 4, and step-mom of Mikaela, 12. "Her life is devoted to everyone else."
Her mom, she said, takes care of her own mother, Millie, and drops everything if one of her daughters or eight grandchildren need her help.
"We all know that she will always be there, no matter what," said Wall who has seen her mom only though "a few socially distant outdoor lunches and cocktails" since the pandemic began.
McVeigh she's longing for one of their famous family dinners, held at her mom's house on Oak Street. The dinners that lasted forever.
"We always end up singing and dancing and laughing like crazy," she said. She's looking forward to the next dinner, she said, and her son "cannot wait until he can hug and kiss her again."
Miles McQuiggan, a Westerly High School graduate who is now the assistant director of athletic communications at Bryant College, said when he thinks of his mother, Jeanie C. C. Herzog, it's her generosity of spirit that comes to mind.
Herzog, a development consultant to the Olean Center, has worked at a number of nonprofits over the years, from the WARM Center to the Jonnycake Center, was a co-recipient of the Athena Award in 2017.
"The first word that comes to mind is selflessness," said McQuiggan who has a few words for his mom on Mother's Day 2020.
Five to be exact.
"Thank you" and "I love you."