On Thanksgiving weekend of 2002 my brother and his crew broke ground for the tea house.
We opened the doors of Nilgiris Tea House at 7:00 a.m. on April 13, 2003.
On April 19, 2017, I watched as my dream was compressed into 53 feet of storage space and was driven carefully away by the best Class 1 licence holder I know.
How I loved the Tea House! I think back to the beginning - Brenda and Andy and Mum and Dad and BethAnne and Bonnie C and Allan and Angie and Don and Norma, all pitching in to get the thing off the ground.
And my Girls - and Guys - who worked hard and cheerfully, doing whatever was asked of them, charming the guests, displaying unswerving loyalty and dedication. I am so proud of you, "my" kids, proud of what you have all gone on to accomplish with your lives. Truly, of all employers, I am so blessed.
The crowning glory of the TH was you, my guests. I LOVED my Oldies and their birthday party breakfasts ... the tiniest ladies and gentlemen who toddled through the door and would hug Baby Elephant and sit and have tea parties with miniature cups and plates ... the crew who wanted cinnamon rolls and strawberry cheesecake ... the private functions for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Christmas parties, Valentine soirees ... Easter and Thanksgiving dinners, where the staff knew that the portion size needed to be "enough so everyone could take food home."
I made many wonderful friends at Nilgiris. Thank you for sharing your china cups and your lives with me. Thank you for Reading the Leaves and encouraging me to write. You all made my life richer and fuller, far, far beyond my biggest dreams.
And now this beautiful space is about to embrace someone else's dream. I am excited to see it unfold.
But still ... as I looked one last time around the place that held my heart for so many years, memories and emotions I had thought were firmly in check welled up unbidden.
One of my wise sisters says, "You have to say hello before you can say goodbye." Nilgiris and I have been saying hello to each other for 14 years. Now it's time to say adieu. Go with God.
Oh, my little Tea House! How I loved you!