62 Years of Marriage and Now Forced to Live Apart

By Chika Dunu, Epoch Times
August 26, 2016 Updated: August 26, 2016

A photo of a tearful elderly couple in Surrey, B.C., went viral almost immediately on Facebook and has highlighted a major problem within B.C.’s healthcare system.

Granddaughter Ashley Bartyvik posted a photo on Facebook of Wolfram and Anita Gottschalk in an emotional goodbye as the visit between her “Omi and Opi” came to end.

“They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking,” she wrote in the post on Aug. 23, calling it “the saddest photo I have ever taken.”

The octogenarians have been married for 62 years, but are now living separately in different nursing homes due to “backlogs and delays by our healthcare system,” according Bartyvik.

For the past eight months, family members have driven Anita 30 minutes on every second day to reunite her with Wolfram in Surrey at a transitional facility, where he is currently housed.  

Bartyvik raised concerns that Wolfram’s failing health—dementia and a recent diagnosis of lymphoma—will wipe away the memories of his wife and said that it’s imperative that the two reside together. She also said that her grandfather isn’t receiving adequate care at his current facility, especially physical therapy, resulting in him having to use a wheelchair.

Bartyvik, at her wit’s end, took to social media to bring attention to her grandparents’ plight. The photo has been shared more than 5,000 times.

“I wanted the world to see what we see every two days when we bring my grandmother to see my grandfather—the raw emotion, the sadness, the anger,” she told CTV News Channel.

The family is hoping Wolfram can join his wife at The Residence at Morgan Heights, but there currently aren’t any vacant spaces. The Fraser Health Authority couldn’t say when a space will open up, but are looking for ways to accommodate the family.

We certainly understand how heartbreaking this is for the family. It’s upsetting for us as well,” Fraser Health Spokeswoman Tasleem Juma told CTV News.

“We continue to work to reunite this couple and hope to do so in the next few weeks.”

Bartyvik said she has yet to hear from Fraser Health.

Epoch Times reached out to the Fraser Health, which didn’t respond in time for publication.