Every week, 88-year-old Bea would go to the same restaurant. She was always alone and always ate the daily special. It was something for her to look forward to. She knew the staff and everyone talked to her while she enjoyed the food. But the last time she was in the restaurant, she behaved very strangely. She was nervous at dinner and didn’t want to talk to the staff.
Finally, she walked out without paying! But when the waiter cleared her table, he made a bizarre discovery…
The staff realized that the woman was not feeling well and wondered why. They decided not to run after her to ask for the money.
After all, she was a regular guest and the bill could be paid at another time. Because Bea had been a special guest for a long time…
Bea had been coming to their restaurant for 30 years. She always sat at the same table by the window and always showed up at the same time.
She was known to all the staff, so everyone realized that something very strange was going on… but what was it?
Bea hadn’t always gone to the restaurant alone. At first, Bea came with her husband. Her husband loved the restaurant because the food was of good quality and it was affordable.
The very first week the restaurant opened, Bea and her husband were there.
She also often invited her family to eat there together. And for their 30th wedding anniversary, Bea rented the entire place. There was delicious food and dancing until late in the evening.
But Bea’s life hadn’t always been a happy one…
Less than a year ago, after a very short illness, the love of her life died. Bea didn’t know what to do anymore and found it very difficult to be alone. The old woman cried for weeks.
She was alone and she had no one left to talk to. No one left to hug.
Gradually, family and friends saw the once cheerful woman get sadder and sadder. She didn’t feel up to anything anymore, hardly ate and didn’t want any visitors.
But soon help came from an unexpected place. There was a letter on the doormat…
The letter was from the restaurant where she ate every week. They hadn’t seen Bea for a while and so they offered her a free dinner. The staff missed the woman and her enthusiasm and positivity.
It was a difficult step for Bea to take. It would be the first time she’d go there alone. She’d never gone out to dinner alone. But she had to!
She had to try to get out of the hole she was in. For such a long time it was difficult to face the outside world, but she couldn’t stay inside forever.
And now she was confident that she would find her salvation at the restaurant…
For Bea, a lot had changed in the last three months, but the restaurant still looked the same, as always. She could smell the familiar smells and hear the same voices coming from the kitchen. For the widow, it was like coming home.
Her usual table was reserved for her and she sat down on her familiar chair. With tears in her eyes, she looked out the window.
‘Here I am, all alone,’ she thought. But at that moment, the owner of the restaurant came to sit with her. He wanted to keep her company. ‘We’ve known each other for 30 years so we’ll always be here for you,’ he assured her.
Bea got emotional, but was also very thankful. But things tend to change…
For Bea, it was a lovely evening. She forgot her grief for a short period of time when she spoke to the staff. They helped her through the evening and hoped they would see Bea again soon. Slowly but surely, Bea scrawled out of the deep hole she had been in since the death of her husband.
She once again became the cheerful woman she always had been and everyone could tell.
But just when she was doing much better again, she received a phone call. It was the doctor. He had the results of the blood test she’d done a week earlier were in.
She had to come by as soon as possible, because it was urgent.
Shaking from her nerves, she entered the doctor’s office the same day. She had clammy hands from sweating. She had to know what was going on. Sadly, the doctor told her that she was sick and that her disease was incurable.
Understandably, Bea was very sad to hear this.
It was like the ground was sinking from under her feet. She’d taken a blood test because she felt so tired all the time, but she never imagined that such a simple procedure could change her life forever.
With tears in her eyes, she asked the hardest question of her entire life: how long do I have left?
“Unfortunately, you’re at an advanced stage. It will be six months with quality of life. One year at most,” the doctor replied. Bea felt like she had a knife in her back. How much more bad news did she have to deal with? But instead of grieving and languishing in her own grief, she decided to fill in her remaining time exactly as she had always wanted. And do something good for the people she loved.
And so she came back to the restaurant where she had been for years. They had helped her through a miserable time, so now it was her turn to do something good in return.
She sat at her table quietly. The staff tried several times to start a conversation, but Bea stayed aloof. She had heard shocking news and had to process everything.
She heard the people talking to her, but she didn’t really listen. Everything just passed by her.
When the staff had given up and let her sit quietly, she grabbed her purse and wrote something on a piece of paper. She put the piece of paper in a black folder and put it on her table. Shortly afterwards, she walked to the cloakroom and left the restaurant without paying.
But she left the black folder on the table…
It was Robin, one of the waiter’s, job to clean up Bea’s table. He stacked the cutlery on top of the plates and was about to throw away the napkin. But under the napkin, he saw the black folder Bea had left behind… Curiously, Robin picked up the folder and opened it. But there was no money in the folder.
There was only a note in it, that would change the lives of all employees at the restaurant.
Robin took the note from the black folder and cried out in shock.
What did he just read?
In the folder was a piece of paper with a moving message on one side:
‘To the restaurant staff,
For over 30 years, I’ve enjoyed coming to this restaurant. I’ve seen everything in the restaurant change: I’ve seen the staff come and go, the menu has changed dozens of times, but I’ve always stayed.
I have had a lot of happy times here, but even in bad times you have always been a support to me. Now that I am old and sick, I would like to thank you very much by means of a nice amount of money’.
With trembling hands, the waiter turned the check over and saw the absurd amount…
The cheque had a value of 100,000 dollars, from an old woman who had been coming to their restaurant for years and wanted to do something good for the staff who had always supported her.
Robin could not believe his eyes and gave the cheque to the manager who burst into tears.
He had known Bea for 30 years and knew that soon he would never see her again at her regular table.
He was happy with the money, but wished that Bea was healthy and well and that he could enjoy her company every week.
Because, “being surrounded by people who are dear to you is worth more than all the money in the world, isn’t it?” he said.