It’s awful to think a couple can be separated after 62 years of marriage as a result to a lack of lack of government-subsidized beds. This is what happened to Wolfram Gottschalk, 83, and Anita Gottschalk, 81, of British Columbia, Canada. Their family is determined to reunite them, however.
Last week, in a now viral Facebook post, the couple’s granddaughter, 29-year-old Ashley Bartyik, 29, explained the situation along with a photo she captioned as “the saddest photo I have ever taken.” She wrote:
“After 62 years together in marriage they have been separated for eight months due to backlogs and delays by our health care system, whom (sic) 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.
Now with the news of cancer, our fight to have them in the same facility is even more urgent.”
Recently, her grandfather, already suffering from dementia, was also diagnosed with lymphoma–which complicated matters more. The photo in the post was taken at Yale Road Centre, which is a transitional facility for senior citizens waiting to be placed in nursing homes. This is where Bartyik’s grandfather is currently staying.
Because of his cancer, her grandfather was told he couldn’t return to the care of his wife in January, and would need to be admitted to a nursing home. As a result, her grandmother decided to put herself on a wait list so she could be with her husband.
When her grandmother was admitted to an assisted living complex at the Residences at Morgan Heights two months ago, the family thought it would be a fairly easy process to have her grandfather placed in the same facility. However, eight months later, the family is still waiting.
Bartyik, who quit her job in January to help support her family full time, during this difficult period, also stated that “our resources are running out.” She went on to say how her grandparents are inspirational to her:
“They’ve always been the role models in our family for what a successful marriage looks like. They taught us how to respect your partner, your country, where you’re from. And they’re very passionate about each other.”
As of now, Bartyik’s grandfather is on the emergency wait list. Tasleem Juma, a communications consultant , told TODAY that this case isn’t all that unusual sadly:
“Often one person will need to move into assisted living or residential care, while the other can remain in the community.
Since his wife moved into assisted living in July, there have been no vacancies at the facility she is in, but we do hope to have this resolved in the next few weeks.”
This is literally one of the most heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a long time. I hope they are reunited soon–since the split is clearly a complete upheaval in their emotional and physical lives.