After 62 years of marriage, Anita and Wolf Gottschalk were forced to live apart. For eight months, the Canadian pair have been on a waitlist to be put in the same care facility. When they saw each other again after a couple days apart, they shared a loving, tearful moment.
"They have been separated for eight months due to backlogs and delays by our health care system, [which has] the power to have my grandpa moved to the same care facility as my grandmother," Bartyik explained on Facebook. "They cry every time they see each other, and it is heartbreaking."
Bartyik added that the family is also dealing with her grandfather's newly diagnosed Lymphoma and preexisting dementia.
"We are afraid ... that if they are living apart much longer, his memory of her won't stay," she wrote. "This has been a strain on our family, making the 30-minute commute to bring her to see him, every second day, so he does not forget her. Now with the news of cancer, our fight to have them in the same facility is even more urgent."
"This has been a strain on our family, making the 30-minute commute to bring her to see him, every second day, so he does not forget her."
The post seems to be tugging at the heartstrings of the Facebook masses, having already garnered nearly 6,000 shares since it was shared Tuesday. While likes and comments are restricted from the general public, one of Bartyik's Facebook friends commented that her grandparents went through a similar struggle with the Canadian government's nursing home system.
"I remember when my grandparents, together close to 70 years, were separated also in White Rock," she wrote. "Something needs to be done and I'm so proud of you for taking a stand!"
Fraser Health Authority, the Canadian organization in charge of the couple's nursing home assignments, told NBC News that they've seen the viral photo and are making efforts to rectify the situation. "We are trying to reunify them," a representative said. "But it's a case of them having different care needs, so what we're trying to do is make sure both of their care needs can be met in one facility."
Here's hoping it won't take another eight months for that to happen.
"We want justice for my grandparents," Bartyik wrote in her note, "who, after 62 years together, deserve to spend their last moments in the same building."