Whilehas kept families apart, in some cases, it has also brought unlikely people together and forged surprise friendships. Sarah Ditmars Cahill has been struggling to see her mother, who lives at Alabama Oaks Assisted Living Facility in Winter Park, Florida. But the two recently made an unexpected friend.
Chaill said not being able to get closer than 10 feet from her mom has been tough. "Yes, it's sad, we are very close and I'm an only child... and she has dementia so she doesn't understand why I can't come through the gate," Cahill told CBS News. Since visitors aren't allowed to go into the living facility, she walks by when her mom is sitting outside with her caregiver.
One day, she was trying to brighten her mom's day from behind the gate, and she started singing and dancing and trying to make her laugh. "Then I heard this beautiful voice across the street," Cahill said. "He had his earbuds in and I motioned to him. He took them out and I said he should come over and sing to mom since he was so much better than me. He was happy to do so!"
That man Albert Jones, a utility worker for Southeast Connections Gas Company, who was singing as he worked. "He sings in his church and has a nursing home singing ministry," Cahill learned after getting to know Jones.
Jones approached the gate in his neon safety vest and hard hat and started singing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," to Cahill's mother. Cahill captured video as he sang the lyrics: "Why should I feel discouraged? And why should the shadows come? Why should my heart feel lonely / And long for heavenly home / When Jesus is my portion?"
"If you listen carefully you can hear mom singing with him. She loves music and is always singing," Cahill said. The video was posted on social media, where it gained widespread attention.
"I have had so much attention to this video and it went viral after Hugh Jackman posted it on his Instagram and pleaded on Instagram how he could find this man to thank him. So I responded and gave him Albert's info," Cahill said.
"The next day Hugh's secretary contacted him by phone and Hugh wants to meet him," she continued, adding that she's spoken with Jones daily because of all of the interest people have shown.
When Cahill and Jones were speaking on Tuesday, she mentioned that she was baking cookies for her mom's birthday, and then asked if he would come see her again. "When mom saw him she lite up with a huge smile and was so happy to see him," Cahill said.
This time, Jones stood behind the gate of the senior living facility and sang "Happy Birthday" to Cahill's mom, who turned 94.
Cahill filmed that serenade, too. "She was so happy to see him. She knew his heart, even from the distance," Cahill said.
While not being able to hug her mom has been a challenging adjustment, she was still able to find joy in her visits behind the gate — with some help from Albert Jones. "I never realized how important physical touch is, with the ones you love," Cahill said.
"I hope that when this virus is over, people will have changed and not wasted this time to reflect, and trust that there are good people everywhere," she said. "This virus has brought us all together and we are fighting for each other. Albert trusts in God, and so do I, and he freely shared his God-given gifts when asked to. We should all be that free to say yes when asked for help."