There are few lives that aren’t touched by friendship in some way or another. Some people have lifelong friends, others pick up friends along the way, and some are brought together by the tragedies of life that turn into sweet serendipity. The latter is true for two of our residents here at Ardenwoods; Lynn Black and Cathy Ford.
These two ladies’ lives began to intermingle in 2017 shortly after they had arrived at Ardenwoods. Lynn had lost her husband, Tom, 3 years ago to Alzheimer’s, and Cathy lost her husband Jim, last year, to the same fate. Lynn and her husband met in high school and they were high school sweethearts, and her husband went into the Air Force after he graduated, and Cathy and her husband met while in college at Penn State where he ultimately became a music teacher.
Cathy was a teacher but spent a lot of years building up a health coaching business and went to Penn State majoring in music. Lynn went to business school and worked in secretarial work for many years. Her passion is arts and crafts and Cathy’s passion is music, similar interests but different enough to keep things interesting! Lynn is from Charlotte, NC, and Cathy hails from the cold north in Rochester, NY.
By a twist in fate these two came together and connected right away. In fact, when I arrived to interview them for this piece, I noticed they were both wearing red shirts!
When I asked them if this was planned, they laughed and said that it wasn’t. As our discussion progressed, I found out more and more about how many of these “coincidences” came up and determined it was fate after all. Some of those occurrences that came up were that they both came to Ardenwoods about a month after the other and found out they lived on the same hallway, as well as their experiences with their husband’s afflicted by Alzheimer’s, even to the point where they found out that both of their husbands had received care at Tore’s Home!
Lynn recalls the two of them meeting in the buffet line and hitting it off instantly after Cathy had introduced herself, and said to her, “I think we may be in the same boat,” as if she subconsciously knew that Lynn had gone through, or was going through, a similar life challenge as her own.
After they met, they started having dinner together and have grown closer over time. The duo has attended many fun events and programs together, such as going to the pool and swimming early in the morning here at Ardenwoods, outings to the Cove at Billy Graham Training Center where they have attended programs together, and even to Greenville to see “Hello Dolly,” and have always had a wonderful time together!
They talked about how they have formed a deep friendship, and that they both have had good friends throughout their lives, but not like they’ve experienced in their current friendship with each other. Cathy reports they have a “genuine, unique, and special friendship,” and they talk about how blessed they are to have each other, and to have had the opportunity to relate so well to one another.
Lynn mentioned that Cathy is great at helping her stay upbeat and keep a positive attitude. In fact, they talk every day and will send each other “good morning” texts, or “thinking about you,” texts regularly. Their friendship has grown so astoundingly that Lynn has even been invited to family events and outings with Cathy’s family, and has found something of an “adoptive” family with her.
The cornerstone of their friendship was connecting through a similar situation after having lost their companions of 50 and 60 years due to Alzheimer’s. Cathy continues on to say, that Lynn is “the kindest person she knows” and Lynn said the same thing about her!
As our conversation came to a close, we talked about how they help keep each other young and think about the future as they grow older and are excited for what is to come. They both made mention to how much they realized that they needed a community and others around them to help get them through such a challenging time, and have found a wonderful friendship, akin to “soul sisters,” together here at Ardenwoods.
They feel their friendship is not a series of coincidences but rather “God’s grace,” or “destiny” and that is what has brought them together.