Honoring Love, Renewing Vows
Glenmeadow held Valentine’s Day ceremony for six couples from the region
LONGMEADOW—As six couples renewed their vows in a sweet and tender ceremony Glenmeadow held for residents on Valentine’s Day, warm memories flooded back for many of the men and women.
Residents Carl and Joanne Janovsky reminisced that they met because their sisters were students at the same college and introduced the families to one another. “My mother said Carl should be invited to Sunday dinners,” said Joanne Janovsky, who was married on Aug. 29, 1953, and raised her family in Longmeadow. “It started a wonderful relationship.”
Barbara Sullivan, who renewed her vows with Jim, her husband of 68 years, recalled walking down the aisle with her father in St. Michael’s Parish in East Longmeadow on September 30, 1950. “Bobbie,” she said her father said to her as they began to walk up to the alter, “Your dress is still outdoors.”
Laughing, Barbara Sullivan added, “That’s how long the train was!”
The Renewal of Vows ceremony, held Feb. 14, was offered at Glenmeadow for the second time because the life plan community is intentional in honoring the relationships of its residents.
The festivities began as the six couples processed into Cotz Hall at Glenmeadow, dressed in their finest—many wearing red. They were seated, three couples on each side of a chuppah set up for the occasion. A small gathering of roughly 50 other residents sat at tables to watch the ceremony, opened by Laura Lavoie, Glenmeadow’s director of life enrichment.
“We’re celebrating these six couples, but we’re also celebrating marriage in general,” Lavoie said. “There have been so many lengthy marriages lived out within these walls. Even if your spouses are no longer here, we want to celebrate the joy you shared with them. We hope today will bring back some of those memories for you.”
Lavoie read a poem about marriage, then she and David Leslie, the nonprofit’s controller, sang “The Wedding Song,” filling the room with beautiful harmonies.
Lavoie then introduced Rabbi Amy Wallk-Katz of Temple Beth El in Springfield, and the Rev. Pam McGrath of First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, UCC, who officiated together.
Wallk-Katz chanted the Sheva Brachot, the core tradition in a Jewish wedding, and she said, “What this moment is about is celebrating love and relationships and the power they have to transform our lives and carry us from moment to moment.”
Love is a source of redemption, the rabbi told the couples and those in the audience: “We’re celebrating your love and how the lives that you’ve led together allowed for healing in this world and the possibility of making this world a better place.”
McGrath talked about the symbolism of the rings in a marriage ceremony, and she asked the six couples to join hands with their partner. “These are the hands that have given you needed tenderness and have wiped the tears of sorrow and joy from your eyes,” she said. “These are the hands that have spent years searching for yours, seeking encouragement and support and offering love.”
The ceremony ended with the traditional breaking of a glass. In addition to the Janovskys, originally from Longmeadow, and the Sullivans, of East Longmeadow, these couples also participated: Oliver and Gundel Deex, originally from Longmeadow, married on June 25, 1980; Gerald and Grace Ann Healy, from New York, married on September 14, 1968; Murray and Roberta Schultz, of New York, married on September 11, 1960; and Dr. Gabriel and Cissie Kitchener, of Longmeadow, married on June 12, 1949.
After the formal part of the celebration, Champagne toasts were held with everyone in attendance. Hot hors d’oeuvres were passed, and residents feasted on wedding cake. The couples later had dinner together.
“I enjoyed the message of the importance of being together so long and the love that we’ve shared over the years,” said Joanne Janovsky. “It was very meaningful. It was a wonderful day.”
In the 1800s, elderly individuals without family or means were sent to live at what was called “the poor farm.” In 1884, a group of civic leaders raised funds among themselves and other area families and purchased a house on Main Street in Springfield’s south end, establishing The Springfield Home for Aged Women. Quickly outgrowing that house, land was purchased on the corner of Chestnut and Carew streets, where a new home was constructed and opened in 1900. In 1960, the name was changed to Chestnut Knoll, and, in 1992, it began to admit men.
In 1993, the organization purchased a 23-acre parcel in Longmeadow to build a new community that would provide both independent living and assisted living in one building with various common areas. This was a new concept known as a continuing care retirement community. Existing residents from the old Chestnut Knoll property were moved to the new campus in 1997. Shortly after the move, the board voted to change its legal name to Glenmeadow to coincide with the name being used by the developer of the property.
Continuing care retirement communities are now referred to as life plan communities, responding to the needs of the aging population with new opportunities for care, plus creative, educational and personal exploration. Glenmeadow offerings, which include everything from senior living options and handyman services to personal care and travel programs, are provided at its Longmeadow campus and across the region through Glenmeadow at Home. Glenmeadow strives to fulfill its mission of nurturing the whole person in mind, body and spirit.