The Front Door (Click picture for larger view)
"Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship. When you're down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end." ~ UnknownThis was my favorite shop in Columbus. Nyssa and I had many Saturday outings here for lunch. We saw the gift shop grow and expand and the addition of additional eating space at the back of the building, naturally named "The Back Door". This was Nyssa's first work experience, waitressing on Saturdays and in the summer. (continued)
The food was fabulous, simple but good; the specialty was homemade chicken salad sandwiches on Minnonite made buns and served with a baked potatoe salad like no other. The soups were wonderful, creamy, a special one each day; asparagus, cauliflower& cheese, potatoe, mushroom, broccoli & cheese, and tortilla. Of course there were salads, my personal favorite was the Chef Salad with grilled chicken strips and Cheesy Parmesean dressing. Then the desserts, all homemade with names like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, the basic chocolate pie with a hot peanut butter sauce drizzled over the top; and my favorite, Caramel Almond Delight, a light almond flavored mousse pie dripped in caramel and topped off with sliced almonds and coconut.
The heart of The Front Door was the owner, Donna S. This was not just her livelyhood, it was her calling. She stocked her gift shop with interesting and inspirational items and loved to showcase Mississippi artisans. She greated everyone with a smile, a kind word and a hug. She loved to host the Red Hat ladies monthly and catered parties all year round. Donna loved people. Donna loved God. The combination was amazing, she touched peoples lives each day; she lived her faith. Perhaps this is why we became good friends. We laughed together, cried together and I always knew that when things got really, really bad I could pop in and get a hug. This wasn't always an easy business, she struggled financially at times but always had a smile and kind word for her friends and customers.
I left Columbus in June of 2004 and when my house finally sold in November, I made my last trip back to move the rest of the furniture and sign the closing papers. In the five days there I saw her several times. We ate one last meal together, chatted about Nyssa, she shared her dreams of selling the restaurant and moving to South Carolina with her daughter and son. But she wanted the next owner to have the same vision of service; they would have to see its purpose as she did. We hugged and cried a little and I left.
It was the 8th of May, 2005. The call came from my former lab, cryptic message from Fred "Dr. P call me as soon as possible, it's important." What could it be, papers for a lawsuit served, the lab closed, the building burned down? I hate those kind of messages. Reluctantly, I returned her call and it was none of the above, but was the worse possible news. Donna, my friend, was dead, a sudden heart attack. Her neighbor heard a noise and checked on her and she was gone. Nyssa had seen her in March on her spring break, but all I had was November. I couldn't believe it, it still doesn't seem real that her bright smile and sparkling eyes are gone.
I haven't been back to Mississippi. I don't know who owns or runs the restaurant now. I hope it is still open. I hope the owner "feels" the place like she did. I hope they have her vision and her ability to touch those who visit there, Columbus needs a place like that. Life there will not be the same without her. My life is better, forever changed by knowing her. Goodbye for now, my friend. I will see you again someday and we'll share a sweet tea and maybe you'll give me that recipe for Caramel Almond Delight.
"The front door of a friends house is always open." ~ UnknownSubmission for Thursday Challenge topic "door". (end of post)