Grandmother plans quarantine prom, honors late daughter

BERLIN, Md. – On Saturday just before 2:00, Stephen Decatur senior Zayda Hamm was in her room putting on her prom gown, fixing her makeup, and making sure her hair was perfect. Because of the Coronavirus, her senior prom was canceled.

“My dreams were crushed as a senior,” Zayda said.

But Zayda’s grandmother, Bertha Purnell, had a plan.

“As we know, the coronavirus has taken over everything, but I wasn’t going to let it put a damper on Zayda’s prom,” Bertha said.

Bertha invited a few family members to come outside her home, stand six feet apart with masks on, and celebrate Zayda’s prom night quarantine style.

“I’m a big family person, so I guess not being able to be around my friends, I can do it with my family,” Zayda said.

The night was complete with decorations, pictures, and, like any prom, dancing.

For Bertha, seeing Zayda in her gown was monumental. The grandmother has been raising Zayda for almost fourteen years after Zayda’s mom, Gina, passed away in 2006.

“Zayda’s mother had said to me she wanted me to raise Zayda, she said, ‘Because I know you’re going to raise her just like you raised me,'” Bertha said.

Since that June in 2006, Bertha has done everything in her power to honor Gina and make Zayda feel her love.

“So I know how important my graduation was to me, I know how important my prom was to me, and I thought back to what my daughter Gina had said, and I said I have to do something,” Bertha said.

So even when the music stops, and the decorations come down, and Zayda prepares to go off to college in the Fall, Bertha says she hopes Zayda knows her mother is with her, every step of the way.

“I always share with Zayda, she may have some difficult times, I always share with her your mom is looking down, she’s smiling, you may make a mistake, but your mom is looking down smiling,” Bertha said.

Categories: Local News, Maryland