After 80 years, a mother gets a chance to see and hug her daughter for the first time.
The reunion was the best gift that Gerda Cole has ever received on Mother’s Day.
She still remembers vividly how she was forced by circumstances during World War II to give her daughter up for adoption in 1942, uncertain if she would have any chance to see her again.
The Toronto reunion was a wish come true.
The Challenges of the Second World War for a Young Jewish Mother
Gerda was reluctant to leave her parents behind in Vienna, Austria, when the war broke out in 1939.
Jewish citizens like them were being persecuted by the Nazi soldiers of Adolf Hitler.
To ensure that their daughter could safely escape, Gerda’s parents sent her away to England through a children’s transport.
Then, in 1942, while the war was still raging, Gerda got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Due to the economic hardship, she was advised by the refugee committee to place her baby for adoption, which included the condition of never establishing any contact with her child.
Gerda had to choose a better life for her daughter.
A Persistent Grandson Reunites His Mother and Birth Grandmother
Gerda’s daughter grew up and became known as Sonya Grist.
Sonya was blessed with a son, Stephen Grist, who years later joined her in her search for her birth mother. It has been a long time which was why all that Stephen was expecting to find were the name and background of his grandmother.
“I was fully expecting to find eventually some record of death,” said Stephen. “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.”
“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.”
Indeed, the reunion between mother and daughter after 80 years happened right in Toronto, in time for the celebration of Mother’s Day.
“Thank you all for coming and sharing this wonderful experience with me,” said Gerda. “I am so overjoyed to be able to say, ‘my daughter.’ It means so much to be able to live to see these moments.”
Sonya was overwhelmed with happiness too.
Gerda, now 98 years old, has something else to share with everyone. “Don’t wait until tomorrow before it is too late; if you want to live, live now, not tomorrow or the day after.”Whizzco