Daughter reunites with mother for first time in 5 years

Lydia Cardona (l) with her mother Josefina Medina Lugo on Friday, May 11.
Community News Group/Sarah Valenzuela

Mother’s Day is about being with your mom. But for one woman it may be one of the last times she gets to see her’s.

Josefina Medina Lugo, a 95-year-old, was sitting in her wheelchair in one of the communal rooms on the third floor of San Vincent de Paul nursing home in Woodstock on Friday, May 11, in her pink floral printed dress and pink sweater, waiting for her surprise guest.

When the guest finally arrived, Josefina’s face lit up.

“Do you know who I am,” asked the woman, through tear-filled eyes. “Do you know who Lydia is?”

“Lydia is my daughter,” said Josefina as her lips widened into a huge smile and she accepted her daughter’s emphatic embrace.

It had been almost five years since Lydia Cardona, 68, last saw her mother.

“I’m shaking and overwhelmed,” said Lydia, who lived in Soundview, before retiring to Puerto Rico 28 years ago.

In Josefina’s older age, she has a tendency to forget certain pieces of information, so the meeting, though a warm and welcomed surprise, was bittersweet.

“I promised I would come back to see you,” said Lydia as she held her mother’s hands, realizing Josefina did not fully comprehend her daughter was standing there, in front of her.

“You look like my daughter, but I don’t remember because I don’t remember a lot,” Josefina admitted to Lydia.

Lydia said her mother has always been her role model, while recalling the stories of Josefina’s growing up on a farm will little means of income.

Josefina had been held back in the third grade because her family could not buy her shoes and she was not allowed in the school building without them.

Through her mother’s trials and tribulations, Lydia said she found strength to overcome her own obstacles.

“How are you feeling,” Lydia asked her mother.

“I feel old,” she joked.

A few months earlier Josefina became very ill and worried she would not get the chance to see her only living daughter again.

Archcare, the organization that runs the nursing home, crafted a plan to get Lydia from Puerto Rico to the Bronx, through their program ‘Mission On the Move.’

Lydia suffers from multiple sclerosis, making it very difficult for her to travel.

Hurricane Maria and its aftermath left Lydia without proper access to healthcare for nearly six months, which completely prevented her from making the trip until she could get her symptoms under better control again.

Her condition complicated the plans Archcare initially made to reunite the pair in January, in time for Josefina’s birthday on the 25th.

Once Lydia was given a green light from her doctor to travel, her flight and hotel room were booked and she packed to spend Mother’s Day weekend with her mom for the first time in years.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.

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