A Toronto long-term care resident was reunited with her daughter on Mother’s Day, 80 years after she said goodbye to her.
On Saturday, 98-year-old Gerda Cole met her daughter, Sonya Grist, at the Kennedy Lodge long-term care home for the first time since 1942.
Cole was sent to England from Austria by her parents at the age of 15 to escape the persecution of Jewish people in 1939 by Germany’s Nazis.
During the war, at the age of 18 and as a refugee, Cole gave birth to a baby. She gave her up for adoption and her daughter, Sonya, grew up with adopted parents in England.
Now Grist is 80-years-old and lives in England.
She tracked her mother down to the Scarborough long-term care home where she lives and began to plan a reunion.
“When I heard, I just couldn’t believe it and to think … I’m still alive and this is my daughter,” Cole said. “This must be — I don’t know — a miracle. I can’t think of it any other way.”
The pair were reunited during a Mother’s Day event at the long-term care home.
Sonya Grist and her son, Stephen, started the search by coincidence when working out whether they qualified for a European passport following the Brexit vote.
After the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the mother and son joined thousands of Britons searching for family links to other European countries that could offer them a passport.
Grist knew her mother was originally from Austria, a country that offered citizenship to those that can trace their lineage to anyone who has fled the country.
“It’s been an astonishing journey to get to this point and we’re very excited to meet Girda,” Stephen told Global News before the event.