‘Hugging booth’ at nursing home brings joy, tears

Amy Dooley, of Abington, and Cindy Walsh, of Rockland, arrived early for the long-awaited reunion with their 91-year-old mother, Evelyn MacDonald, outside The Dwyer Home. Both were excited, and a bit teary.

Walsh knew almost to the minute the last time she’d been able to hug her mother, who has dementia. It was on March 1, shortly before the state’s nursing homes were locked down due to the coronavirus.

“It has been very difficult,” Dooley said.

Now, thanks to a hugging booth built by the home’s maintenance crew, they are able to sit close to MacDonald on opposite sides of a plastic sheet, reach their arms covered with plastic sleeves through holes in the sheet, squeeze her hands and share childhood memories.