Reunions
Senior has sweet reunion with daughter she placed for adoption 80 years before
Gerda had the chance to celebrate her 98th birthday alongside her daughter, who she hadn't seen in 80 years.
Eduardo Gaskell
05.31.22

98-year-old Gerda Cole received the best birthday present ever when she saw her daughter again for the first time in eight decades.

In 1939, Gerda was a young Jewish girl who managed to escape persecution in her hometown of Vienna, Austria. WWII saw the persecution of her people causing her parents to send her to England on a children’s transport.

Pexels - Julia Sakelli
Source:
Pexels - Julia Sakelli

Cole was all alone on the transport.

Gerda was just 18 in 1942 when she gave birth to her daughter, Sonya Grist. Her economic situation proved difficult to raise a child so she was advised by the refugee committee in England to put her newborn up for adoption.

Then they told her not to have any further contact with her daughter.

Unsplash - Omar Lopez
Source:
Unsplash - Omar Lopez

As a result, Gerda and Sonya had been separated for 80 years.

Mother and daughter held on to each other tightly that Saturday. It was the reunion of a lifetime literally for both. Gerda was super excited and she couldn’t contain herself, repeating the words “80 years.”

Her daughter, amused at her mom’s reaction, jokingly said, “Don’t emphasize my age.”

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

“Thank you all for coming and sharing this wonderful experience with me. I am so overjoyed to be able to say, ‘my daughter,’” Cole said. “It means so much to be able to live to see these moments.”

It was Stephen Grist, Gerda’s grandson, who helped his mother locate Cole in Canada. He was able to contact her at a long-term care home in Toronto.

All Stephen had was the hope of finding the name and background of his biological grandma.

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

His efforts proved fruitful.

“I was fully expecting to find eventually some record of death,” he told CTV News. “In the end, I found Gerda’s stepson, and they told me that Gerda is alive and well and living in a home in Canada. That was such a shock in the system. It changed everything.”

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

“When I told my mother, the first thing she said was, ‘I want to go on a plane to Canada and hug my mother,’ but we couldn’t do that because of the pandemic, but here we are now.”

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

Sonya Grist, Gerda’s daughter, knew Cole was her mother upon receiving the first email correspondence when Cole typed, “You have to understand this computer doesn’t like me.”

She shared: “It was exactly something I would say.”

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

Gerda and Sonya spent the rest of their day together, dancing and talking to make up for 80 years. It was a reunion party both women will surely cherish.

“Don’t wait until tomorrow before it is too late, if you want to live, live now, not tomorrow or the day after,” Gerda Cole said. “It’s all the advice I have to give.”

YouTube - CTV News
Source:
YouTube - CTV News

We’re glad Gerda and Sonya finally got the chance to meet each other in person. It just goes to show that despite wars, pandemics, and economic problems, there is always hope when there is love.

Watch this amazing story below!

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By Eduardo Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Eduardo Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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