When I think about days that I savored and went to bed at night satisfied and happy, I think about days like this one. It feels good to focus and celebrate on what went well.
We drove the 60 miles to Richmond where we enjoyed Sunday brunch at Helen’s Restaurant. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt at home in this quirky and artful environment. The history of the restaurant is fascinating.
Originally opened in 1912 this building was a pharmacy called Fletchers. Like many pharmacies at this time Fletchers was a social center as well as a place to fill a Rx complete with soda fountain and juke box. In 1927 Humbert and Marie Donati took over the space and opened the first-class restaurant D's. Marie would cook and Humbert loved to tinker with the juke box. They raised their family in the apartment upstairs. Helen was deemed the most business savvy of the Donati children and Humbert and Marie passed the restaurant on to her on her 21st birthday in 1935. Under Helen's management the restaurant went through a very prosperous time as a well-known beer bar and juke joint popular with the swing dancing set.
As we placed our order, I asked the server if I might take a few pictures, and she graciously granted permission. Out the door, along the snowy sidewalk, across the street, down the block, I ran to our car to retrieve my camera. While my husband slid his fork through freshly-baked, homemade biscuits and gravy, I took a few pictures. I returned to our oil-cloth covered table, and sat down to enjoy my own hearty breakfast. Our table was in a small alcove just at the front window, the best seats to my eye. We sipped steaming mugs of hot coffee and talked in the way that two people who have loved each other their whole lives can talk.
After brunch, we walked along Cary Street, stopping to buy a 2018 calendar at Paper Source. This seemingly insignificant purchase is actually a big deal for us. We operate from a single calendar. We put all appointments, birthdays, important happenings and events, work schedules and commitments on a calendar that hangs in our kitchen. The calendar keeps us organized and allows us to plan. We don’t use digital devices for planning or dates or reminders. We both still love plain old paper and pen methods. With these considerations, we need a very specific kind of calendar. It must hang. It must have pages that flip easily. It must have large boxes with plenty of room for writing. It must be both artful and functional, and it must fit next to the bulletin board on the kitchen wall – because, well, the bulletin board and the calendar are the pair that keep us on track. Calendar – check.
For our final destination, we headed south toward home, stopping at the Hanover Tavern to see the Virginia Repertory Theater production of Miracle on South Division Street.
The Nowaks of Buffalo, New York, have always known they are special, ever since the miraculous night in 1942 when the Blessed Mother appeared to Grandpa in his barbershop! Since then, the neighborhood has looked upon the Nowaks' 20-foot commemorative shrine as a beacon of hope and faith amidst the urban rubble.
When a deathbed confession reveals a secret, the family legend comes into question. This heartfelt and hilarious play will have the whole family laughing through the holidays.
The play was hilarious and heartwarming portraying everything that is good and real about family relationships. And as the parent of a gay child, I was especially moved by the scene where the character, Ruth, played by Audra Honaker came out to her mother and was received with open-hearted, extravagant love.
It’s easy to forget to be thankful. And then a perfect day comes along and reminds you.