80 years apart: Touching mother-daughter reunion

A 98-year-old woman received the biggest gift for Mother’s Day: a reunion with her daughter, whom she hadn’t seen in 80 years.

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As a young Jewish girl, Gerda Cole escaped persecution in her native Vienna, Austria, in 1939, at the height of World War II, when her parents sent her to England on a Kindertransport.

Three years later, in 1942, at the age of 18, Gerda Cole gave birth to a daughter, Sonya Grist. In view of his economic situation, the refugee committee in England suggested that he put the child up for adoption. After the adoption, she was reportedly told not to contact her daughter again.

The mother and her daughter have been separated for 80 years.

In cuddles and joy, the two women met on Saturday just before Mother’s Day. According to CTV News, who were present at the touching gathering, the 98-year-old woman repeated “80 years” after letting out a whoop of joy.

“Don’t insist on my age,” Sonya Grist replied, amused.

“Thank you all for coming to share this wonderful experience with me. I am so happy to be able to say “my daughter”. It means a lot to me to be able to experience those moments,” said Ms. Cole.

This reunion was possible thanks in part to Stephen Grist, son of Sonya Grist, who helped his mother find Gerda Cole. The latter, after finding out that she was living in a Toronto nursing home, decided to contact her.

“I expected to find a death certificate. Finally I tracked down Gerda’s son in law and he told me that she is alive and living in Canada. It was a shock. It changed everything,” explained Stephen Grist.

The first thing his mother said when she heard the news, he said, was, “I want to fly to Canada and hug my mother.” After the pandemic decided otherwise, the two women began corresponding via email.

The mother and her daughter spent the rest of the day talking and dancing to celebrate this reunion.

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