Some marriages have the good fortune of lasting so long, even as the couple moves on towards old age. But that strength of union can also become a potential source of hurt as husband and wife begin to lean more on each other, especially in the twilight years. When circumstances force them to be away from one another for the rest of their lives, the emotional turmoil can be unbearable for them, and heartbreaking to outside observers.
This is the unenviable position of long-time couple Wolf Gottschalk, 83 years old, and his wife Anita, who is 81. Residents of Surrey in British Columbia and married for 62 years, their lengthy time together was come to an abrupt and unfair end when they, at their advanced ages, have been admitted to separate nursing homes. Eight months have passed since that awful news, and the two of them have been living separately, and miserably for the most part.
Their plight has been brought to the public attention by their granddaughter, Ashley Bartyik, who posted a picture of her aggrieved grandparents on Facebook. It depicts Wolf and Anita, on a wheelchair and using a walker respectively, and sobbing quietly near each other. The occasion was one of several arranged visits by Ashley and other members of the Gottschalk family, who would take turns visiting one of the couple at their assigned home, then driving them through the 40-minute distance to the other location to visit the mate, that they might have some time together. But no day visit lasts forever, and when it’s time to say goodbye, the tears start flowing as in the photo.
Bartyik tells CNN that the emotional partings have been emotional for her Omi and Opi. She made her Facebook post this Tuesday August 23, hoping to somehow bring her grandparents’ plight to the attention of her local community, especially after receiving the news that Wolf has been diagnosed with lymphoma that very day. Coupled with his advancing case of dementia, Ashley fears that he would not be long for the world and Anita would not be able to be there for him.
What their devoted granddaughter didn’t know was that her poignant plea to healthcare outfit Fraser Health to arrange for the elder Gottschalks to be in the same nursing home would become viral internationally.
The 29-year old Ashley, who looks after her grandparents at their separate homes full-time, ended her Facebook post with a heartfelt request. "We want justice for my grandparents who after 62 years together deserve to spend their last moments in the same building."
Apparently her efforts have borne fruit, for a Fraser Health responded that they have undertaken steps to reunite the couple within the next few weeks. We could only hope that they’d hurry; Ashley notes that grandpa Wolf still remembers his wife in spite of his dementia, but who knows for how long.
Photo Credit to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/