A South Surrey woman is fighting to reunite her elderly grandparents, who – after 62 years of marriage – are living in separate care homes.
“They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking,” said Ashley Bartyik in a Facebook post Tuesday.
Longtime Semiahmoo Peninsula residents Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk have been living apart for eight months – Wolfram, 83, in Yale Road Centre in North Surrey, and Anita, 81, at The Residence at Morgan Heights a half-hour drive away.
Wolfram is on a wait-list to move into the same facility as his wife in South Surrey, but his failing health prompted their granddaughter to speak out.
Bartyik told Peace Arch News Thursday that her grandfather was diagnosed this week with lymphoma, and his dementia is getting worse. Bartyik said her family fears if they are apart for much longer, his memory of her won’t stay.
“The point is for them to be together in their final days,” she said. “Now with the news of cancer, our fight to have them in the same facility is even more urgent.”
Bartyik said she’s reached out to her MLA and Fraser Health Authority, but her family’s questions and concerns remain. She said her family hasn’t been contacted by the health authority since her grandparents were separated.
“Our family is just desperate. If there’s anyone that can help us get him moved to our grandmother quicker, we’d just really like the help. We’re still not getting it from Fraser Health.”
Bartyik shared her story in a desperate bid to bring her grandparents back together. She didn’t anticipate her post would go “completely viral.”
As of Thursday morning her post had been shared by more than 2,900 people.
“It shows just how many families, not only in Canada but around the world are sick of health care systems,” she said. “It just kind of opened the door to people’s frustrations that maybe weren’t voiced before.”
Fraser Health Authority spokesperson Tasleem Juma wasn’t able to return a call from PAN by press time, but told CTV News officials are working to reunite the couple and “hope to do so in the next few weeks.”