Doctor misses Canadian mom, family

PHOTO PROVIDEDDr. Ashley Bernotas (left) and her, mother Deborah Pigeon Bernotas, are all smiles on their mother-daughter trip to Cuba in 2019.

PLATTSBURGH – Dr. Ashley Bernotas, and her mother, Deborah, and sister, Devin, will do a Facetime dinner or something of the sort to mark another virtual Mother's Day.

“I send money, and I ask my sister to buy certain items and wrap them for me,” she said.

“My mom will open her presents on Facetime.”

Her family lives five-and-half hours west in Toronto, Canada, where she was born and raised.

“I lived there pretty much until I went to medical school, the American University of Antigua college of Medicine in Antigua, West Indies,” Bernotas, a physician at Plattsburgh Family Health in the Hudson Headwaters Health Network, said.

“I'm very close with my mom and my sister. My mom is a lawyer in Toronto. Currently working from home, and she has been for the last year. My sister is a high-school special education teacher. They've been going remote for a couple of weeks at a time, but mostly have been in class. That's my closest family in Toronto.”


Bernotas last hugged and kissed her loved ones during Christmastide of 2019.

“It's almost been so long that it's almost become a new normal, which I really don't like,” she said.

“I'm very close with my mom and my sister, and we communicate multiple times a week on Facetime a lot.

“For any significant event we'll all get together on Facetime and have dinner at the same time or something and have discussions.”

They play online games together and even formed a book club.

“We're just trying to keep connected as much as I can because we would normally see each other,” she said.

Normally, the doctor traveled to Toronto every few months, at least for a weekend.

“So, it's been very hard,” she said.

“It's a very hard time. And dealing with the stress at work and not being to see my family is tough. I'm lucky I have a wonderful partner here and the most adorable puppy. They help me out a lot. It's really comforting having them here with me, but a part of my life feels missing.”


Sunday, marks her second Mother's Day without seeing her mum and sister in person and another Facetime party/games chat.

One of her favorite photographs with her mother captures their week-long mother-daughter trip to Cuba in August 2018.

“Because we're Canadian, it's very easy to go to Cuba,” she said.

“We flew out of Montreal and direct to Cuba. It was a really nice, relaxing trip. It was warm. I just needed a change of scenery. There's not a lot of Americans who go. It's generally less people. It's an easy Canadian destination, and there are direct flights from Montreal. It was just easy. It's gorgeous – white-sand beaches – gorgeous.”


When the border opens up, Bernotas is Toronto bound to hang out and reconnect with “The Ds.”

“Honestly, I don't have any desire to do anything planned,” she said.

“I just want to have a good meal with them and just catch up in person. I can't wait to hug my mom. It will be the best hug. Ugh, it's so tough.

“This border needs to open. I really don't understand it. I'm vaccinated. It's okay. It's not like I can't go because I'm Canadian. I can physically go. They can't tell me not to go.”

However, Toronto is in the red zone: a complete lockdown.

“The problem is the vaccinations were so delayed,” Bernotas said.

“I'm just speculating...what I've heard is that they've received vaccinations late. For instance, my mom got her vaccination in April.”


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