- Publish Date
- Friday, 26 August 2016, 3:30PM
A couple who have spent almost their entire lives with one another, are being forced to spend their golden years apart because they cannot get into the same care home.
Wolf Gottschalk, 83, and his wife Anita, 81, met and fell in love while their families lived in the same apartment complex in Dusseldorf, Germany when they were teenagers.
The couple got married in 1954, as he worked in construction and as a Merchant Marine and she worked in retail.
After a few months of wedded bliss, they decided they wanted a better life for their future children and immigrated to Surrey, British Columbia.
Settling there, the couple was never separated from each other, as they went on to have three children - a son and two girls.
But after 62 years, for the past eight months, the couple have been forced to live separately because there are no spaces at care homes close by that can accommodate two people.
Added to their worries is their failing health and the urge to spend as much time with one another, while they still can.
Outlining the family's impossible situation in a Facebook posting, their granddaughter Ashley Bartyik aired her sadness and frustration at the current situation.
"After 62 years together, they're inseparable. They do everything together," she wrote.
In speaking to the DailyMail.com, Ashley shared that her grandmother had cared for her husband up until January, when doctors told the family he needed to be in a care facility as his condition was worsening.
Wolf apparently asks for Anita each night in the care facitility where he now lives, but his calls are in vain. Photo / Facebook
Wolf is on a waitlist to move into the nursing home where his wife is cared for, called The Residence at Morgan Heights, but the Fraser Health Authority is unable to say when it will happen.
Their family is doing all they can to ensure they see each other as often as possible, so every other day family members drive Anita 30 minutes up the road to see her beloved husband.
When the time comes for the couple to part once more, the tears begin to flow.
"My grandma can't even kiss him goodnight now. He calls out her nickname, little mouse, for her when he sees her," says Ashley.
"They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking," she writes in the post, calling it "the saddest photo I have ever taken".
Ashley said they can't even share meals together since they aren't at the same facility.
The family are only too aware that time is off the essence.
Wolf is in the early stages of dementia and earlier this week was diagnosed with lymphoma.
"His dementia is growing ever stronger each day, but his memory of my grandmother has not faded an inch...yet. We are afraid however that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won't stay," Ashley wrote.
The couple have been apart since January when they both entered care facilities. Photo / Facebook
The Fraser Health Authority says it has been working to get the couple together but says that no care spaces have opened up since Anita moved in.
"We certainly understand how heartbreaking this is for the family. It's upsetting for us as well," spokeswoman Tasleem Juma told DailyMail.com.
"The wife went into assisted living in July and we've been working hard with the family to get their loved ones reunited since.
"One of the challenges with couple reunification is that they don't necessarily need the same level of care at the same time. In this case, the Wolf's care needs are considerably higher than his wife's.
"He needs residential care while his wife needs assisted living care. This means we need to make sure the facility can accommodate both their needs.
"We have been in contact with the family as recently as last Friday, and will continue to work with them to reunite this couple. We hope to do so in the next few weeks."
Granddaughter Ashley says her family hasn't received a single phone call from Fraser Health in the eight months her grandparents have been separated, and she says time is running out for the couple.
"We're just asking for anything that can be done so that my grandfather can be accommodated as soon as possible."