VIDEO: ‘Beautiful moment’ marks Surrey seniors’ heartwarming reunion

Surrey's Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk, who have been married for 62 years, were separated within the Fraser Health system earlier this year.

Surrey seniors Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk were reunited on Sept. 22 after spending months apart due to delays within Fraser Health. The reunion saw tears of joy.




SURREY — It was a beautiful day – inside and out – at the Morgan Heights seniors care facility Thursday as two Surrey seniors were reunited.

Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk, who have been married for 62 years, were separated within the Fraser Health system earlier this year. The couple’s story made national headlines earlier this summer.

“It was amazing,” granddaughter Ashley Kaila Bartyik told the Now. “My grandfather put out his arms as he sometimes does, with dementia you lose your ability to express yourself freely through words, so he does a lot of hand motions and clapping. But his arms went up right away and he said ‘kleine maus,’ a German phrase for ‘little mouse.'”

And they kissed.

“Then she said, ‘I finally have you, I finally have you.’

“It was a beautiful moment.”

The experience has been emotionally and physically challenging on her grandparents, said Bartyik, who quit her job in July to step in and help.

They became depressed and ridden with anxiety, said Bartyik, and her grandmother become almost immobile, unable to get in and out of a vehicle.

“They really missed each other.”

The couple met in Dusseldorf, Germany 62 years ago. They were married and immigrated to Canada within a year. He worked as a brick layer. She, in retail, until becoming a stay-at-home-mom.

The two were inseparable until he fell ill last January and was hospitalized due to congestive heart failure, among other ailments.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

This image (pictured) of the couple in tears on Aug. 23 was shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook.

“With his dementia, his congestive heart failure, wound care, it all became too much for our family and my grandmother to do,” explained Bartyik.

He was then placed in a transitional facility. He bumped back and forth between hospital and transitional facilities for the next eight months,” she said.

“He was there alone.”

Meanwhile, her grandmother, not wanting to be apart from her love, put herself on the wait list to get into a care home.

“She ended up being placed before him,” Bartyik explained. “She’s been at her place for 10 weeks now. Finally yesterday they were reunited.

“It was really painful. When you literally can’t help the situation, it’s heart breaking,” she added.

Bartyik took to the media to tell the story this summer.

“The point was making it clear that there shouldn’t be a priority. Whether you’re in private or subsidized care,” she said.

She’s glad her family’s experience has raised awareness to an issue that affects other couples.

“I want to continue doing it,” she remarked. “I’ve had so many families reach out to me who are dealing with the same thing.”

Of course, she couldn’t be happier that her grandparents are together again.

And, as luck would have it, Bartyik and her parents live within five minutes of the care home. As do other family members – even some great grandchildren.

“It really is the best outcome.”

Just Posted

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

Delta to craft whistle-blower policy

The policy is meant to increase public trust and create support for staff in questionable situations

VIDEO: North Delta Studio Stomp back for sixth year

The annual art event has local artists opening their studios to the public this weekend

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Most Read