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

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

‘Kim’s Convenience’ keeps Surrey actor busy when not working as church pastor in Guildford

Award-nominated James Yi will again play shop owner at Surrey Arts Centre next winter

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in South Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Hazmat team called to Surrey recycling centre

Witness at scene said several workers reported affects including coughing, headaches and chest tightness

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Langley organizers invite special guest to Gone Country

Cancer fundraising, day-long concert sold out more than a month and a half ahead of Saturday’s event

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read