Separated BC seniors one step closer to reunion “Picture”

Separated BC seniors one step closer to reunion (Picture)

A photo posted online showing an elderly couple holding hands and crying has been shared thousands of times on Facebook.

After 62 years together, 83-year-old Wolf and 81-year-old Anita Gottschalk are being torn from each other’s side and it isn’t because of marital disharmony. Eight months ago, the Gottschalk’s retirement facility in Surrey, Canada said they can no longer allow the two to live together due to a lack of space and delays in the healthcare system. So Anita is forced to travel 30 minutes away to visit her husband who is suffering from lymphoma and dementia.

To call attention to their desperate situation, the couple’s granddaughter, Ashley Barytik, shared this heartbreaking photo on Facebook hoping it would go viral. “This is the saddest photo I have ever taken,” Barytik wrote. “They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking.” Time is of the essence for Barytik who fears that if her grandparents are separated much longer, her grandfather’s “memory of [his wife] won’t stay” and he’ll eventually forget her altogether.

Since the photo was first posted last Tuesday, it has been shared 10,000 times and the story has been covered by major news outlets including ABC News, The Toronto Star, and CNN. There’s no word yet on when, or if, the couple will be reunited. But a spokesperson for Fraser Health, the regional authority that oversees service and delivery of care, says they’ve been “actively trying” to reunite the couple.

Here’s Barytik’s full post.

“This is the saddest photo I have ever taken. This is my Omi and my Opi. As you can see, they are both wiping away tears! But why? It was taken in Surrey at Yale Road, a transitional facility for people waiting to get into nursing homes, that’s where my Opi is!”

“They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking. To make it worse, TODAY he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Besides that limiting his time and making this more urgent, his dementia is growing ever stronger each day, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded a [sic] inch… yet. We are afraid, however, that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won’t stay.”

Friends please read! This is The saddest photo I have ever taken. This is my Omi and my Opi. As you can see they are both wiping away tears! But why? It was taken in Surrey at Yale road, a transitional facility for people waiting to get into nursing homes, that’s where my Opi is! After 62 years together in marriage they have been separated for 8 months due to backlogs and delays by our health care system, whom have the power to have my grandpa moved to the same care facility as my grandmother. They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking. To make it worse, TODAY he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Besides that limiting his time and making this more urgent, His Dementia is growing ever stronger each day, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded a inch…yet. We are afraid however that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won’t stay. This has been a strain on our family, making the 30 minute commute to bring her to see him, every second day, so he does not forget her. Now with the news of cancer, our fight to have them in the same facility is even more urgent. He isn’t even getting proper care where he is, including no physical therapy which we were promised (the only reason he is in a wheelchair is because it has been 8 months of no walking!!) They deserve this! Financially, physically and emotionally exhausted, me and my family are begging for your help my friends. We have contacted our local MLA, called Fraser Health and done in person inquiries, but none of our questions and concerns have been answered. We want justice for my grandparents who after 62 years together deserve to spend their last moments in the same building. Please share this and tag anyone that needs to see this post to get the help we need! @fraserhealthauthority