Ann Gilman and Linda Lowe met while teaching in the Boston public school system more than 40 years ago and quickly formed a friendship. They only worked together for one year, but they stayed in touch and even went on to get their master's degrees in special education together. Their friendship deepened over the years and has stood the test of time.
"Ann and I have a similar outlook on life. We both have a great sense of humor, although I am a little more sarcastic than she is," Linda says. "I think we just bonded over things that have happened in our lives. We have both gone through some really tough times when we were younger, and I think our support of each other led to our best friendship."
Now retired, Ann and Linda both moved to Linden Ponds within days of one another. They live not only in the same residence building but on the same floor as well. Ann and Linda first visited Linden Ponds several years ago when a friend who lived there invited them to attend an informational luncheon. Neither was ready to make the move at that point, but they encouraged another friend to check out the Erickson Living-managed community in Hingham, Mass. In the process of helping their friend learn more about Linden Ponds, Ann and Linda decided that they actually wanted to move in too.
At the time, Linda was living in a 55-plus community in Ashland, Mass. She was active in that community but decided the time was right to make a proactive decision about her retirement living.
"I am very capable of taking care of things in my house, and I am very active," Linda says.
"But what was happening in my neighborhood was that I was losing a social component. I lost two close friends to cancer and a third developed early-onset Alzheimer's. Things started to become less and less about social connection, and I didn't have close friends there."
Meanwhile, Ann was living in the same Watertown, Mass., house where she had lived since she was nine months old. Like Linda, Ann was finding that she had fewer close friends in her neighborhood. Maintaining her house was also becoming a burden, she says.
"When you have a house and you're a single woman, good luck trying to get someone to do something," Ann says. "It got increasingly difficult to find people to do things, and I was stressed all the time. I really just was tired of being bound to that house, and I was feeling unsafe being alone."
The clear choice
Ann and Linda spent about two and a half years researching and visiting retirement communities. In the end, Linden Ponds was the clear choice for them.
"We did look at other places, but nothing compared to Linden Ponds," Ann says. "In terms of amenities and prices, nothing compares to Erickson."
During their decision-making process, Ann and Linda were in close contact with Karmin Der, Linden Ponds' sales counselor. Der knew which apartment home models the women were interested in, and when two Fairmont-style apartment homes on the same floor became available, she knew they'd be perfect for Ann and Linda.
"At that point, I looked at Ann and said, 'We're going to bite the bullet,'" Linda recalls. "I went home, called up my real estate agent and started working on selling my house."
Ann, having lived in the same house all of her life, had to sort through many years' worth of belongings, including even her old prom dresses. But Lynne Ford, Linden Ponds' personal moving consultant, was able to offer assistance throughout the process and connected Ann with a professional downsizing company that was able to help get the job done.
Linda says she was worried about selling her house. It ended up selling within a month, but during that time, she says Karmin and her team were able to calm her fears.
"The sales staff was great and Karmin was like a therapist, my mother, and my sister all in one," Linda says.
Ann and Linda signed agreements to sell their houses on the very same day. They each moved to Linden Ponds last June, and both women say the community immediately felt like home.
"For someone who lived in a house for many years, this is home for me," Ann says. "If you offered me a million dollars to move back to my house, I wouldn't take it."
Both Ann and Linda quickly got involved in the many clubs and activities available at Linden Ponds. Linda is a member of the photography and creative writing clubs. She has also taken advantage of the on-site fitness center, which has a heated indoor pool.
"Ann has always been into water aerobics, but I hadn't been in pool in16 years," Linda says. "I went down one day and started doing laps—I started with four and now I'm up to 16."
Ann and Linda take chair yoga and ceramics classes at Linden Ponds together. Ann is in the resident chorale.
"It's an amazing group of singers, and I really enjoy that," she says. "I have been a singer my whole life, and this group has stretched me beyond what I'm used to."
These two lifelong best friends are loving spending their retirements together—and they say Linden Ponds is the perfect place to do that. In fact, Ann and Linda are so enthusiastic about living at Linden Ponds that they were invited to become ambassadors, who introduce prospective residents to the community, before they even moved in. Now, they often speak at sales events to talk to other active retirees about everything Linden Ponds has to offer.
"The two of us together, it's a comedy routine," Ann says.
Both are dog lovers. Linda has a Bichon Shi Tzu named Olivia Gracie and Ann has a Maltese named Lily Rose. Ann says the dogs, like their two owners, love each other.
"We love it here," Ann says of their life at Linden Ponds.