Marc Bucher has been working through the pandemic to “feed the fridge” throughout the region, while also delivering meals to elderly residents who, because of the pandemic, haven’t really been able to get out of their homes.
But as vaccination rates keep going up and infection rates have been going down, he’s ready to move to the next step of a post-pandemic existence — celebration.
He’s flying in 10 moms from all over the country to have Mother’s Day brunches and dinners with family they haven’t seen in over a year — and in one case, even longer than that.
Everyone who was chosen won a contest — it was subjective — everyone had to share their story, and Bucher admits in an ideal world everyone would have won because he felt the stories were that good.
“It was, ‘we knew that they needed our help to get together,’” said Bucher, co-founder of D.C. restaurant Medium Rare. “It was ‘lost a job, didn’t have the money to fly.'”
“We’re all watching those videos, it’s that hug, it’s that military reunion we all see on TV at sweeps week,” he added. “We wanted to kind of do that for Mother’s Day.”
Moms are flying in from California, Arizona and New Mexico, but also from locations that are closer along the east coast.
In one case, two moms, Amy Troutmiller of D.C. and Susan Boyle of Chicago, who aren’t related but are best friends, will also be reunited. Bucher said they both have, “sick husbands, where there’s MS or early dementia, so these moms have been covering full duty for the last 18 months caring for — health care provider, being a spouse, being a mom, a teacher, and these are two best friends,” Bucher said.
For them, it will be a family-free chance to hang out together for brunch on Sunday morning, but not until after they get a trip to the spa on Saturday, also courtesy of Bucher.
Another tear-jerking reunion will involve Gayle Regalia, who lives in Maryland.
On a Zoom call with Bucher, she explained how she was adopted as a baby, but during the pandemic had started getting into genealogy in another effort to find her biological family.
“I’ve tried to find her before,” Regalia said.
But after taking a DNA test, she worked with someone who specializes in tracing family trees. When she got a call back two days later, she didn’t think it was possible to make it happen that fast.
“I found them on Facebook and so I reached out,” explained Regalia. “I reached out to my aunt and my mother and kind of sent them the same message and kind of let them feel it out and hit me back.”
Both women were in the same age range that she was looking for.
“My mother actually came back to me and said ‘yes I know who this is, this is my mother, that was my father if you want any more information,’ because I kind of said I found out we’re connected through DNA and she gave me some history on her family,” continued Regalia. “I said ‘well that is my grandmother according to ancestry.com.’ I let her feel it out and she told me, ‘Oh my God, I think you’re my daughter.'”
The two have spent the past few months trading messages through social media, and Regalia said she even got a birthday card earlier this year.
This Mother’s Day they’ll get together after Bucher also paid for a mother-daughter shopping trip to Nordstrom.
“After 50 years you just don’t think it’s going to happen,” she added.
For Bucher, the effort is personal.
“I lost my mother when I was 17 years old, so Mother’s Day is always one that if you can cherish your mom, you need to cherish your mom as often as you can,” Bucher said. “It’s important to me, but it’s also perfect timing right now. We’re coming out of this. It’s a positive event.”
In addition, Bucher said he’s also delivering about 1,200 meals to older mothers around the region who still struggle to get out.
“But we also felt that, it’s just, find a nice positive book end to this year we’ve had, as far as we’re starting to reopen a little bit, bringing families back,” Bucher said.