Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and his wife Anita, 81 of Surrey, British Colombia have been married 62 years, but for the past eight months they’ve had to live apart.
The elderly couple have been forced to live in different aged care homes because they were unable to find out that would admit both of them. The separation has been a heartbreaking time for the couple and their entire family.
“This is the saddest photo I have ever taken,” the couple’s granddaughter Ashley Bartyik wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday accompanying a photo of her grandparents wiping away tears as they prepare to say goodbye to each other. “This is my Omi and my Opi. As you can see they are both wiping away tears! But why?”.
For the last eight months, Wolf has been on the waiting list to move into the nursing home where his wife lives. But because of what Bartyik calls, “backlogs and delays by our health care system,” no one can tell them when this might happen. A wait made all the more agonising by the fact that Wolf is suffering from dementia.
The family does what it can. Bartyik says she or someone else in her family make the 30-minute drive with Anita to see Wolf every other day. But on Tuesday, things got even worse.
“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,” Bartyik says in the Facebook post.
She says the family has contacted everyone they can, from local legislators, their local health authority, Fraser Health, to personal inquiries, but they have still not had their questions and concerns addressed.