98-year-old mother and 80-year-old daughter meet for the first time

There were smiles at the Revera Kennedy Lodge long-term care center in Scarborough when one of its residents, Gerda Cole, was reunited with her daughter Sonya Grist after many, many years of waiting.

The two women embraced for a long time and immediately shared moments of complicity. A festive atmosphere reigned in the residence where a celebration had been organised.

I’m still alive. And I’m with my daughter. It’s a miracle. »

A quote from Gerda Cole, 98, who just found her daughter

Originally from Vienna, Austria, Gerda Cole fled to England at the age of 15 to escape the horrors of World War II and the persecution of her people.

She then gave birth to a daughter at the age of 18, whom she had to put up for adoption due to lack of money. After the war she emigrated to Canada. Despite a busy life, she had only one wish: to see her daughter again. And unbeknownst to her, this wish was shared by her child, who was still in England.

Expected reunion

Last year, Sonya Grist got the surprise of her life when she found out her mother was still alive. She therefore did not hesitate to make the trip to Canada to finally meet her.

I don’t have enough time to ask all the questions that come to my mind. »

A quote from Sonya Grist, who just found her mother

In biology class, Ms. Grist first thought she might have been adopted since she has brown eyes but her adoptive parents had blue eyes, a situation her teacher describedimpossible back then.

ans”,”text”:”J’ai demandé à mes parents et c’est à ce moment qu’ils m’ont dit que j’étais adoptée. J’avais 14ans”}}”>I asked my parents and they told me I was adopted. i was 14She explains.

Decades later, it was her son Stephen, looking to find his birth grandmother, who eventually found Mrs. Cole. Stephen also accompanied his mother during her stay in Canada.

: c’est impossible, car ta grand-mère est toujours en vie à l’âge de 97ans”,”text”:”Avec la pandémie, j’avais beaucoup de temps et je cherchais à obtenir un passeport autrichien, car je savais qu’on avait des origines dans ce pays. J’ai donc commencé à regarder des sites généalogiques. Finalement, j’ai trouvé quelqu’un qui s’avérait être un ancien beau-fils de ma grand-mère. Et je lui ai demandé s’il pouvait me fournir un acte de décès pour mes démarches. Il m’a dit: c’est impossible, car ta grand-mère est toujours en vie à l’âge de 97ans”}}”>I had a lot of time with the pandemic and I was looking for an Austrian passport because I knew that we have our origins in this country. So I started consulting genealogical sites. Eventually I found someone who happened to be my grandmother’s former stepson. I asked him if he could issue me a death certificate so I could continue my proceedings. He told me, “It’s impossible because your grandmother is still alive at 97.”explained Stephen Grist.

The fact that [la mère de ma mère] was still alive and that she would have the opportunity to meet them was really encouraging news. »

A quote from Stephen Grist, who just met his grandmother

He later got in touch with his grandmother, who happily agreed to meet her.

Gerda Cole (centre) met her daughter Sonya Grist (right) and grandson Stephen Grist.

Photo: Radio Canada / Stella Dupuy

Already points in common

In the next few days, the family plans to spend time together to get to know each other.

A mother and daughter meet for the first time in a dorm.  Several residents watch the scene.

The reunion took place at the Rera Kennedy Lodge long-term care center in Scarborough.

Photo: Radio Canada / Mark Bochsler

One thing is for sure: Gerda Cole will have a lot of stories to tell you.

After arriving in Canada, she earned three university degrees, including an Honors BA in Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto. She has also traveled to several countries, including conducting archaeological excavations in Israel and Cyprus.

She also recalls less happy memories. I remember when I had to sign papers in court when I left my daughter. I shouted. Couldn’t calm down, said the mother, who said she had followed the advice of a body responsible for helping the refugees. She had no real education at the time and the war complicated things, she says.

Now she wants to enjoy every moment with her daughter, who is already noticing similarities with her mother.

We still love to learn and speak different languages. There are many shortcuts‘ she emphasizes.

We definitely have a lot to talk aboutadds his mother.

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