Marj, Mary and the Art of Friendship

Almost from the moment Marj Sattler and Mary Kirkpatrick met as new residents in the retirement home of The Village at University Gates, they’ve been the best of friends. To join them in conversation is to be reminded that a friend is one of the greatest things to have and to be, and to realize that a deep, meaningful friendship can be forged at any stage in life. Marj and Mary banter are the best of friends, always finding a reason to laugh and smile.


They moved to The Village in September 2020, a week apart from each other. Mary came to Waterloo from Burlington to be closer to her two daughters and Marj moved from an apartment only a few blocks from University Gates. The first wave of the COVID pandemic was enough for Marj to know she didn’t want to be alone in an apartment, she says; if she was going to navigate another COVID wave, she wanted to be with other people.

“We were so lucky to be here amongst people,” Marj says, “and the people working here, they’ve been great.” Marj, Mary and their fellow residents weathered the third wave of the pandemic together and in early June, as hope of the province opening up began to glow a little brighter upon the horizon, they’re discussing the value they’ve found in life at University Gates.

Mary lived alone for many years, she says, perfectly happy with her own company, and she still values the quiet time she has alone in her suite at the Village. But she also has the luxury of stepping out her door to a community in which she’s grown completely comfortable.

Marj feels the same thing. The people who call the Village home share so much in common, far beyond the stage of life they’re in, and it was in those commonalities that Marj and Mary connected. They both come from large families, for example. They like to share recipes and reminisce about the things they loved to cook. They both love being mothers and grandmothers. They both lost beloved sons to cancer, and they both said goodbye to their husbands far too early.

Everybody has a story, they say, and when people take the time to learn each other’s, the overlaps in life experience shine brightly.

"There are so many things that stand out,” Marj says, glancing across the table to her friend, “and well, we just got along good, didn’t we?”

“We did?” Mary replies, a slight smirk upon her face.

They banter like they’ve know each other forever, like a classic comedy duo feeding each other the foundation of the next punch line.

“We’re great together,” Mary says. “We get around.”

Marj laughs, but the point they both agree on is that they put themselves out into the Village, open to new connections and eager to see what comes next. When one carries themselves with such self-assurance, friendships simply emerge and the community grows every tighter.   

“There are a lot of lovely people here,” Mary says, and Marj nods her head in agreement.