VANCOUVER — Every time the elevator doors open at Wolfram Gottschalk's care home and he sees his wife of 62 years, the couple's granddaughter says he always reacts the same way.
The 83-year-old, who suffers from dementia, cries out his nickname for his beloved Anita — "My little mouse!" in German — and the two sit together and weep for several minutes.
Their granddaughter captured this moment in a heartbreaking photograph that has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and made headlines around the globe.
Ashley Bartyik says the couple spent no more than a few days apart during their decades of marriage, but for the past eight months Wolfram has lived alone in a transitional home in Surrey, B.C.
She says Anita was placed in a different care home two months ago, and although Wolfram has been on an emergency waitlist there are no available beds for him to join her.
The regional health authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Bartyik says she hopes the photo draws attention to the shortage of publicly funded beds for seniors in British Columbia.