Toronto woman reunites with her daughter after 80 years

A 98-year-old Ontarian says she received the best Mother’s Day gift she could imagine after seeing her daughter for the first time in eighty years.

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

At 18, she gave birth to her newborn daughter, Sonya Grist, in 1942, but due to her economic situation, she was advised by the Refugee Committee in England to give her daughter up for adoption, and she was said not to have any more. contact with the child.

Mother and daughter have been separated for 80 years.

On Saturday, the two held tight to each other during the reunion. Cole squealed in excitement and repeated the words “80 years” in bewilderment. Jokingly, her daughter replied, “Don’t stress my age.

“Thank you all for coming and sharing this wonderful experience with me. I’m so thrilled to be able to say ‘my girl,'” Cole said Saturday. “It means so much to be able to live to see those moments.”

Steven Grist helped his mother find Cole in Canada and contacted her at a long-term care home in Toronto. He said all along that he just hoped to find out his biological grandmother’s name and background.

“I was expecting to eventually find a trace of death,” he said on Saturday. “In the end, I found Gerda’s son-in-law, and they told me that Gerda was alive and living in a house in Canada. It was such a shock to the system. everything changes.

“When I told my mum, the first thing she said was, ‘I want to fly to Canada and hug my mum,’ but we couldn’t because of the pandemic, but we are there now.”

Sonya Grist said she knew Cole was her mother in their first email correspondence, when Cole wrote to her, “You gotta understand this computer doesn’t like me.”

“That was exactly something I would say,” she laughed.

The mother and daughter spent the rest of the day talking and dancing together at the reunion party. It was a moment they would both cherish.

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

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