U.S. land border reopening means Brockville, Ont. couple can finally be with sick mother

With the Canada-U.S. border planning to reopen in November, a Brockville, Ont. couple is both relieved and excited to finally be with their sick mother.

It was exactly the news Debbie and Mike Durham wanted to hear late Tuesday evening.

"That was so important because my mom has cancer and we're going over to look after her and we've sold everything we own so we can move across," said Debbie, holding back tears.

Inside their two-bedroom north-end apartment, boxes have already been packed. Now all they need is a date.

"If you want to see somebody run real quick to pack a car, you watch me!" said Mike with laugh.

The couple moved back to Brockville from Alliston in southwestern Ontario a year and a half ago to be closer to Debbie's 83-year old mother, Donna.

She lives in Ogdensburg, N.Y., directly across from Prescott, Ont. on the St. Lawrence River, and was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the pandemic began.

Debbie was able to visit her in December after getting permission to cross the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge from the Ogdensburg Port Authority.

"I could have stayed as long as I wanted but I didn't know that. I stayed with my mom for five days and then I came home and quarantined," Debbie said. "We've been waiting for that border to open to go across and it finally came!"

She was so excited by Tuesday night's news that she hardly slept through the night, waking her mom up Wednesday morning to tell her.

"I called her at 5 o'clock this morning and I said, 'Did you hear the news?', and she goes 'What time is it?' and its 5 o'clock and she said, 'What news?' and I said 'Mom, the border is reopening!' and she goes, 'What?' and my mom's crying and I'm crying and I'm like, 'Oh, my God," Debbie said.

Wearing the Ogdensburg t-shirts that Debbie's mother bought them, the couple said they can't wait to finally confirm a date when they will be able to cross.

"I'm raring to go," said Mike, who also has family in New York State.

"Every day, I'll be marking that calendar, just to see how many more days we have left," Debbie said. "As soon as we find out, the car is getting packed at night because we are going to be ready to cross that bridge the first thing in the morning."

"I have a lot of family in Ogdensburg, New York and I can't wait to see all of them," she said sobbing. "We've waited too long."

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