Mom builds ‘Hug time’ structure so family can safely embrace great-grandmother: 'It fills my heart'

Carly Marinaro (not pictured) built a "Hug Time" structure so her grandmother Rose Gagnon could hug her great-grandchildren. (Photo: Facebook/Carly Marinaro)

A mother built an ingenious "Hug Time" contraption so her children could safely embrace their great-grandmother during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carly Marinaro of Rockford, Ill., is very close to her 85-year-old grandmother Rose Gagnon. Living minutes away from Marinaro and her five children, ages 12, 9, 5, 3 and 1, Gagnon sees her family on a near-daily basis. However, for the past two months, she has self-isolated in her condominium.

“My arms ache from not cuddling my grandchildren,” Gagnon, who works as a realtor, tells Yahoo Life. The split was just as heartbreaking for Marinaro, who is very close with her grandmother — Gagnon was her maid of honor at her wedding and her son has regular sleep-over nights at “Nana’s” house.

After watching a video of a man using a plastic bag as a barrier to hug others, “I thought, ‘What can I string together?’” Marinaro tells Yahoo Life.

Realizing that a structure would be the safest barricade, Marinaro purchased a pair of disposable livestock gloves used for medical procedures, and a window insulation kit from a hardware store. She re-sized the material to fit Gagnon’s 5’4 frame, spelled out “HUG TIME” with red duct tape and pasted colorful hearts from construction paper. The materials cost less than $50 and took about one hour to build.

When the device was ready, Marinaro’s children called Gagnon and begged her to drive over, promising a “big surprise.” Gagnon’s 5-year-old granddaughter also advised, "Make sure you comb your hair and put lipstick for the video.”

The family footage shows the children jumping up and down with excitement when Gagnon arrives. “Come on Nana,” said Marinaro. “Put your arms through the slots.”

“Oh, this feels so good,” said Gagnon, as she embraced the first child in line.

“My granddaughter did a superb job,” Gagnon tells Yahoo Life. “It blows my mind and fills my heart.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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