Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 04/03/2018

The Best of Cousins

The Best of Cousins

Your first best friends are often your cousins. For Mary Ann (May) Collins and Kathleen (Kay) Cullen, that was certainly true. And it still is.

Now residents at The Villa at Florham Park, May and Kay never remember a time when they weren’t together. The Villa at Florham Park is a part of Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey (see sidebar). The community offers assisted living care, memory care and nursing care. Residents enjoy a beautifully landscaped campus; spacious, private apartment-style suites; and comfortable common areas.

Originally a church, The Villa at Florham Park was a private retirement home for the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth for more than 80 years. The campus features beautiful Romanesque architecture and interior spaces that are welcoming and homey.

May and Kay grew up in Brooklyn, New York. “We have been best friends since we were born,” May said. “We always remember being together.”

When May got married, Kay was her maid of honor. After retiring, May and Kay bought a condo together in Long Island—becoming roommates as well as best friends.

“As time went on, things changed,” Kay recalled. “I don’t have other family, but May has two sons. We started to think that we would be better off if we moved closer to them.” At the time, one of May’s sons was living in Connecticut and the other was in nearby New Jersey.

“We decided that it was time to sell our condo,” Kay said. “Otherwise, we were going to have to put a lot of money into it.”

May and Kay looked at various properties in both Connecticut and New Jersey, but when they found The Villa at Florham Park, they immediately felt a connection. “It is only five minutes away from one of May’s sons,” Kay said. “And the chapel was a big deal for both of us. It is a beautiful, large chapel, and they offer mass every day. We were immediately impressed.”

The cousins were also struck by the unique and inviting atmosphere at The Villa. “I remember that all the other places we looked at didn’t feel like a home. They felt more like hospitals. This felt like home,” May recalled.

Kay agreed that the community felt like home from the moment they entered. She quickly noticed the upgraded accommodations as well. “The rooms here are just very nice, nicer than any place we saw. There is more closet space and more storage,” she said. “We had a good feeling from the minute we pulled up to this beautiful building.”

Since moving to The Villa last year, May and Kay have found a community that is both beautiful and engaging. “There are activities here to suit people with different types of interests and abilities. I just don’t have time to do them all,” said Kay.

“We go to bingo when they have it, and we really enjoy the singing programs,” May added. “There are so many things that we enjoy about living here.”

It was clear from the beginning that The Villa would have no shortage of social opportunities. “The day we moved in they had an ice cream social,” Kay recalled. “The weather was perfect, and it was really nice. That was a great start.”

Avid readers, both women take full advantage of The Villa’s expansive book collection. “There is a great library here, and there are books on every floor,” May said.

Of course, May and Kay still spend plenty of time together. The women watch TV together every evening and share most of their meals. When the weather is nice, they walk out to the community’s gazebo every day.

For May and Kay, retirement means more quality time together and less worries about home maintenance or future care needs. They are now living in a safe, comfortable, affordable environment. And while they have made new friends at The Villa at Florham Park, they are incredibly grateful that they were able to make this move with their best friend—each other.

May and Kay have always been—and will always be—more than simply the best of friends; they are the best of cousins.

By Christy Brudin


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