ATLANTA - Americans lining up for COVID-19 vaccinations have many reasons to roll up their sleeves: for the added protection, for work, and for the chance to travel again.
Piedmont Healthcare nurse Bridget Kayser's motivation was professional, but also deeply personal.
She wanted to see her mom again.
They had been apart for 14 months, but getting vaccinated opened the door to a mother and daughter reunion.
"It was unbelievable, overwhelming, emotional," Kayser says. "I get emotional thinking about it, because I had not seen her in so long. Our family had not seen her."
Kayser got her first dose of the vaccine in early January. Her mom, Dorothy, had been vaccinated, as well.
"As soon as I got the vaccination, (I thought) 'I'm on the road; I'm halfway there,'" she says. "And, then I got the second one."
After being vaccinated, Piedmont Healthcare nurse Bridget Kayser was able to visit her mother Dorothy in her nursing home for the first time in 14 months. (Bridget Kayser)
A month later, in early March, Kayser boarded a plane in Atlanta and headed north.
She had not seen her 82-year-old mother, a retired school cook, who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, since January of 2020, two months before the pandemic began.
"It was overwhelming," Kayser says. "I still think about it and I get emotional. You know, when you leave a family member at a nursing home, when they are ill, and with my mom having advanced-stage, you don't know if that's the last time you're going to see them."
Kayser says she is grateful for Piedmont Healthcare for making getting vaccinated easy and to her mother's nursing home for making an exception to its rules, and allowing her to visit because she was fully vaccinated.
"When I walked in, she called me kiddo," Kayser recalls. "She said, 'Hey, Kiddo! What are you doing here?' So, she was happy, happy to see me. And, of course, I wanted to hug her, but we had to socially distance."
Kayser says she brought her mom some of her favorite treats.
Bridget Kayser was reunited with her mother Dorothy after 14 months apart.
Seeing her mother again, she says, she was flooded with relief.
"Instantly, I felt the stress leave my body, that I can see her, I hear her, I know she's doing okay, and they took very good care of her," she says.
Kayser is already planning her next visit with her mother.
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