Friendship ‘Gift from Heaven’ for This Pair

Friendship ‘Gift from Heaven’ for This Pair

January 8, 2019
Ann Togneri gardens at Glemeadow with her friend Beth Young.

When Ann Togneri moved to Longmeadow in 2001, the once hospital pharmacist shifted her focus to caring for her husband and daughter, both of whom struggled with medical problems. “I didn’t make good friends because I was needed at home,” Ann remembers.

Beth Young lived and breathed her work as a reading specialist for the Longmeadow Public Schools and as an adjunct faculty member at Elms College. Her colleagues were her friends.

Then Beth retired, both women lost their husbands, and Ann’s daughter also passed away. They felt lost and alone—“like fish out of water,” Beth says.

Their paths crossed here, at a yoga class, and a fast friendship formed and has continued to blossom. “Meeting Ann was really like a gift from heaven,” Beth says. “We were both in need of female friendship and a new social outlet. We completely hit it off.”

Ann lives at Glenmeadow, moving here several years ago, after the loss of her husband and daughter. Her son recommended she make the transition to our life plan community, where she could take advantage of social opportunities.

“He was 100 percent right,” Ann says. “There was a void in my life from the time I moved out of Long Island until I moved into Glenmeadow. I’ve made a lot of friends at Glenmeadow, but once I met Beth, that was it. I’m so thankful for the camaraderie that she and I share.”

Beth lives in East Longmeadow, but she is able to take classes and take part in our programs and services as a Lifestyle Pass member. After initially connecting with Beth in the yoga class, Ann asked Beth if she’d like to be a volunteer with our Garden Club, spearheaded by our President and CEO Anne Thomas.

“We took part in this big project together,” Ann says, noting that several other women have also played a role.

At the core of the garden revival, though, were Ann and Beth. The two women started by beautifying the second-floor balcony, now called the Gill Garden Gallery. Then, they set to work replacing our life plan community’s artificial plants with live plants. They filled the pool room, Kirkham Parlor, and other sitting areas with such beauties as ferns, cast-iron plants, and ponytail palms. They continue to maintain the greenery, keeping up the porch and planters, and watering all the indoor plants on Saturdays.

Ann and Beth now also travel and go on daytrips together. Recently, they had dinner at the Delaney House in Holyoke before seeing “The Nature of Forgetting” at the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They have also visited the Springfield Museums together.

And through the Springfield Museums, they’ve taken trips—to the botanical gardens in New York City; to the Glimmerglass opera house near Cooperstown, New York, to see “Porgy and Bess”; and to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

Ann and Beth don’t need to go anywhere to have a good time, though. The two share plenty of laughs talking about the simple things in life, like their families, the Garden Club, current events and politics, and even Beth’s cat, Walter.

“Ann has become one of my most treasured friends,” Beth says, noting that she and Ann also discovered at some point that their sons know one another, and they are also friends.

A lot of their chit-chat comes when Beth drives Ann around to run errands, like going to doctor’s appointments, or stopping by the shoemaker’s or jeweler’s shops. Sometimes, their conversations drift to more serious topics, like a friend who has been sick or someone living in a nursing home with no family around to visit.

“Ann and I share a quality in that we’re both people persons,” Beth says. “We worry about our friends when they’re not well, and we’ve gone to visit them in their nursing homes or rehabs.”

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