Sometimes you really can’t go home again, no matter how close you are. But Vankleek Hill-born Sylvie Potts is hoping that will change soon.
Potts (nee Sauve) was born in Vankleek Hill, but moved to Ohio 18 years ago to live with her American husband Terry, whom she met online. For the past several years, the couple has maintained a campsite at the Evergreen Camping and Resort facility in Alfred and have lived there from the beginning of May until October 1 in order to be near their two children and six grandchildren, who still live in this area. But the closure of the Canada/US border due to the COVID-19 has made visiting their campsite and family impossible so far in 2020. What’s made it even more difficult is that Potts and her husband just recently moved to Massena, New York in order to make the cross-border visits easier.
“We just moved a month ago to Massena to be closer to our family,” Potts says, noting the move was planned far in advance and was made to allow for both easier and even spur-of-the-moment visits to her hometown and family:
“It was just getting harder with the six grandkids and we were missing hockey games and school pageants,” Potts recalls. “I said, well now I’m only going to be an hour and 15 minutes away. They could call me and say ‘Grandma, do you want to come over’ and I could just get in my car and go.”
Those plans were stymied prior to their actual move to their new home when the border closures were announced. Terry and Sylvie Potts were actually at their daughter Judith Sauve Roy’s home in Vankleek Hill at the time, preparing to babysit Judith’s three children while their daughter went on a March Break vacation to Cuba. All plans were cancelled and Sylvie and Terry headed back to Ohio immediately to ensure they could get across the border in time.
“When we heard they were going to close the border we just left,” Potts remembers. “We have medication to purchase and we can’t get our medication in Canada – plus we had a move to prepare for – so we just thought it would be better if we just left before they closed the border so that’s what we did.”
Since then, Potts has been unable to visit either daughter Sauve-Roy and her three children or her son Marc-Andre’s family. Marc-André lives in Rockland and also has three young children, so Sylvie and Terry Potts are missing a lot of love by not being able to cross the border.
“I’m so close but yet so far,” Potts says, adding she understands and accepts the rules being applied during the pandemic. She says modern technology has helped to ease the family’s plight.
“If this would have been 20 years ago we wouldn’t have had Skype and stuff like that,” Potts explains. “I get to talk to my grandkids every day.”
Potts was buoyed just moments before speaking with The Review by news that the federal government is now allowing a limited exemption for the immediate family of citizens or permanent residents of Canada to enter the country. The individuals allowed in will mainly be spouses, children, and parents of minor children and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Potts is hoping this news will allow her and Terry to now travel to their campground for the summer, but worries there may still be an issue.
“It says I can go over and will have to quarantine 14 days, but it says nothing about my American husband being able to go without a problem. I’m going to read the fine print or check online because they just made this announcement about an hour ago.”
For Judith Sauve-Roy, the visits from her mom cannot resume soon enough.
“(My mom) missed her grandkids and hopes to see them soon.” she says, before admitting to a bit of a selfish reason. “She’s also a super-great helper and helps me with my kids.”