File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Herbert and Audrey Goodine kiss in a handout photo from their daughter Dianne Phillips. The elderly New Brunswick couple bid a tearful goodbye this week, separated just days before Christmas after 73 years together.

Officials separate couple after 73 years: ‘I listened to my mother weep’

PERTH-ANDOVER, N.B. — An elderly New Brunswick couple bid a tearful goodbye this week, separated just days before Christmas after 73 years together.

Herbert and Audrey Goodine gave each other a peck on the lips and said goodbye Monday, moments before Herbert was driven to a new care residence about 45 minutes away.

The couple have been married for 69 years, spending the last three years together at the Victoria Villa Special Care Home in Perth-Andover, N.B.

But after a recent assessment of Herbert’s health, officials decided the home could no longer accommodate him because the 91-year-old’s dementia had progressed to a point where he needs a higher level of care.

Dianne Phillips, the couple’s daughter, said she was told last Friday her father would have to move.

By Monday, a van carried him away to another home in Plaster Rock as Audrey stood by the window and watched him go.

“I feel people need to know what a flawed system we have in place. Two words describe it ‘unethical and cruel,’” she said in a Facebook post.

“This should never take place to another human again.”

Phillips is upset the couple was separated a week before Christmas, saying it’s mentally and emotionally difficult for her parents who had, up until now, shared a room and the same bed at the villa.

Phillips said in the post that she understands her father requires a higher level of care, but felt the facility could have arranged for the couple to be separated after the holiday.

“I listened to my mother weep and I could hear my father in the background,” she said. ”My mother said, ‘Christmas is over for us now and this is the worst Christmas that we will ever have. Why could they not have waited till after the holidays.’”

Jennifer Eagan of Victoria Villa told Global News she cannot comment on specific cases due to privacy, but stresses the home is a Level 2 facility for residents who need a little bit of supervision.

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