maintaining relationships

It’s a classic cinematic “meet-cute” story: Boy sees girl while they’re waiting in the lunch line. No one else is around, so they start talking. Boy learns girl lives nearby in a patio home but regrettably forgets to ask her name. Boy goes home, searches the neighborhood phone directory, and miraculously finds the girl on his first attempt. He calls to invite her to dinner, and she accepts.

The “boy and girl” — Beatitudes Campus residents Jerry Eddy and Sharon Watkins — have been together since that fateful day two years ago, waiting for their to-go orders at Buckwald’s. They celebrated their love on Feb. 10 with a pre-Valentine’s Day commitment ceremony surrounded by family and friends. The couple will officially cap off the ceremony — live-streamed for distant loved ones — with a cruise in March.

Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Jerry was married for 57 years, and Sharon was married for 50 years before losing their spouses following long illnesses. They said they would never have met if it weren’t for living at Beatitudes and are grateful to have found love that “has been continuously increasing every day.”

Their story is a testament to the importance of relationships and social connection for seniors and the benefits of relationships in our lives. The couple loves old movies, TV mysteries, live music and dancing. Other residents will often find them cutting a rug during Bearded Lizard jam sessions at Plaza Club or Saturday afternoons at Town Plaza Bistro.

Jerry and Sharon offer advice for singles in retirement communities wanting to find love or companionship: “Don’t just sit in a room alone. Be bold and take advantage of any chance to talk to others, like while waiting for your takeout order. Ask someone if you can sit with them in the Bistro, attend exercise, music or lifelong learning classes.”

why healthy relationships are important

Why Are Healthy Relationships Important?

Healthy relationships — whether romantic or friendly — are a fountain of youth for older adults, offering many benefits. Studies suggest seniors with strong social connections enjoy longer, healthier lives. Friendship and romantic love help keep the mind sharp through engaging conversations and activities, promoting cognitive function as we age. These connections also provide a sense of purpose, whether helping friends or cherishing family moments, giving seniors reasons to embrace each day.

Life has ups and downs, but having someone to lean on is invaluable. Healthy relationships provide emotional support for navigating life’s challenges and are a beacon of light that combats loneliness. Sharing life’s adventures with someone special also adds an extra layer of happiness to daily life.

Bob Morgan and Linda Byers’ love story started at church, where they had known each other for about 15 years. Fate brought them both to Beatitudes, just a month apart in November and December 2019. Life had thrown its challenges their way; Bob’s wife passed away in 2020 after a severe stroke and Linda had lost her husband a decade earlier.

They recognized that their former spouses wouldn’t return and discovered something beautiful together. Bob and Linda found they had more in common than they could have imagined. Their shared interests in church activities, books, theater and movies brought them even closer together.

The couple said every day feels like Valentine’s Day or a Hallmark holiday; they don’t need a special occasion to celebrate their love. “Our advice to other residents: Take advantage to share opportunities with others in the community when they are presented to you. Don’t be afraid to make a commitment.”

resident couple enjoying their valentines day

“We Wanted To Spend All Our Time Together”

If you ask Joannie Bailey, “Why are relationships important?” she’ll answer, “Happiness!”

She first saw and became friends with her “so friendly” and “very handsome” future second husband, Lowell, years ago at a fitness class where he was an instructor while also teaching at a nearby college.

Both had previously enjoyed 50-year marriages before reconnecting when Joannie was 78 and Lowell was 82. They both still shared a love for fitness; Joannie was a runner, while Lowell was an Arizona Senior Olympics board member.

After learning that Lowell had moved to Beatitudes post-retirement because of the continuing care options offered at the Life Plan community, Joannie expressed interest in visiting. Lowell also was a docent at the Desert Botanical Garden, which Joannie often frequented. Gardening was another shared passion, and she learned Lowell started a community garden at Beatitudes Campus.

While Joannie’s friend was visiting from Boston, Lowell invited them to tour the campus and see the Garden Club’s progress. “What a sight! Raised beds filled the area and green shoots were thriving. It was a work of art.” she said.

Joannie said she would have been happy to leave it at that, but Lowell invited the friends to stay for a drink at The Plaza Club. Some of Beatitudes’ most knowledgeable residents, including Founder Dr. Culver “Bill” Nelson, frequented the campus hotspot.

“We met the crew, talked and told jokes, and Lowell said we had fit right in,” Joannie said. “A week later, he called and hesitantly asked if I would go on a dinner date with him and another couple at Elaine’s Fine Dining at Beatitudes Campus. Would I?! I could hardly wait!”

Lowell was residing at Beatitudes, while Joannie lived in a different community. They soon realized the distance hampered their relationship. “We wanted to spend all our time together. That’s when we realized we were in love and wanted to move in together.”

Shortly after, Lowell proposed, and the couple married in the community garden, where their good friend Bill Nelson officiated. Joannie and Lowell invited the entire campus and nearly everyone attended, meeting their families and friends while enjoying champagne and wedding cake “presented by smiling and thrilled dining services folks.”

While Lowell’s health gradually declined, the continuum of healthcare services he received allowed the couple to stay together until his death two years ago. Like Jerry and Sharon, and Bob and Linda, Joannie encourages older adults to be bold and put themselves out there to find joy.

“Go for the fun and see what happens,” she said. “There are so many events right here on campus. And should you happen to fall in love, there’s no telling the happiness.”

enjoying valentines day at beatitudes campus

Join Us Feb. 16 for a Toast to Love, Music and Wine

We invite you to share in our love of decadent delights, tasteful tunes and vino varietals on Friday, Feb. 16, from 6:30–8 pm. Enjoy chocolate, wine and the timeless tunes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Bobby Darin with musician Garrad “G-Man” Perry.

Don’t miss this chance to experience campus life and get a glimpse into an amplified future. Learn more and RSVP.