The loss of a family member is hard any time, but at Christmas the loss seems especially hard.
Last week, my dad, Victor Newman, passed away. Just hours after his funeral, his sister, Gwen, followed him home.
Although we knew their health was declining, it was still a shock to our very close-knit family.
In the week leading up to dad’s funeral, our family met for morning coffee at the Columbia Place A&W in Sahali, as we have done for nearly 20 years.
The staff and many regular clients offered their condolences and stopped by our table, made larger by moving tables together and adding chairs to seat our growing numbers.
As the week went on, several staff members mentioned they were planning to attend Victor’s funeral.
We asked restaurant manager Shana and her sister, Katie, if we might conduct a family breakfast the day after the funeral as a send-off home for out-of-town family and friends.
When we arrived, during one of the busiest times of the year, staff had organized an area in the restaurant just for our 45 family members — and coffee was provided free of charge.
Family, staff and regular clients joined together to reminisce on special memories they had of dad.
When our coffee and breakfast was finished and it was time to go, the weekend manager, Tammy, invited the Newman family back this coming Sunday to remember our dear sister, auntie grandma and friend, Gwen.
To be clear, for 20 years this A&W restaurant has not made much money from our family.
We are mostly seniors buying discounted coffee and getting a second cup free of charge — except for the one order of yam fries regularly purchased by my brother each morning to be shared around the table.
By the time this coming Sunday’s family breakfast is done, A&W and its staff will have offered us something even more special than space to reminisce and grieve. They have, and will again, offer us the very best of humanity— the gift of their support, kindness and heartfelt sympathy.
How often does that happen in today’s commercial world?
The Newman family salutes Columbia Place A&W and wishes its owners, managers and amazing staff a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
In memory of Bill Owens, David Owens, Victor (Wayne) Newman and Gwen Newman.
May they rest in peace after such a wonderful send off.