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'This is the saddest photo I have ever taken' writes Surrey woman of grandparents forced to live apart

cbc.ca cbc.ca 25/08/2016 CBC News
Wolfram and Anita Cottschalk were married 62 years ago. Their granddaughter says they are a "pillar of strength" to their family Jacy Schindel/CBC Wolfram and Anita Cottschalk were married 62 years ago. Their granddaughter says they are a "pillar of strength" to their family Jacy Schindel/CBC

Wolfram Gottschalk and his wife Anita have been married 62 years. But now in their old age, they're living apart, against their will.

Whenever they get a chance to visit one another, both burst into tears.

"I just want to see them together," said the couple's granddaughter Ashley Bartyik. "They're a pillar of strength in our family."

Wolf, 83, and Anita, 81, are in separate care facilities in Surrey, and even though the regional health authority says it's working to reunite the couple, their families fear time is running out.

Wolf has dementia and has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

Friends please read! This is The saddest photo I have ever taken. This is my Omi and my Opi. As you can see they are...

Posted by Ashley Kaila B on Tuesday, 23 August 2016

In January, Wolf was hospitalized and told he couldn't go home because he required a higher level of care. He was moved to the Yale Road Centre in North Surrey, where he's been living for the last eight months, apart from his wife.

Anita lives at The Residence at Morgan Heights, a 30-minute drive from her husband.

"She is just begging anyone that one can help her get her husband back," Bartyik said.

"It's been very, very difficult for our family."

Bartyik drew attention to her grandparents plight when she posted a photo of them during a visit.

Both wiping tears from their eyes as they sat facing one another. Wolf slumped in a wheelchair.

"This is the saddest photo I have ever taken," Bartyik wrote.

"They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking."

Fraser Health says it's trying to reunite the couple and get them living under one roof

"We are also exploring options other than this particular facility that his wife is at now," said spokesperson Tasleem Juma.

"Certainly when the scope is narrowed to one facility, it becomes difficult to place them there because we have to wait for another bed to become available."

With files from Tanya Fletcher

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