In Loving Memory: Grandma & Red Lobster

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Watson Adventures


April 27, 2023: Grandma’s 88th Birthday

The Drive

As I drove up to WI I said a quick prayer to the Lord, “Lord, please help her to have a good day today.” While I was excited to see Grandma, her memory had been getting worse over the last year and I really hoped that we would get some good quality time together.

I had called Aunt Kathy the other day to see if they had any other plans and to ask her what she thought Grandma’s favorite restaurant would be. Aunt Kathy didn’t hesitate. Red Lobster.

Red Lobster it was! As I made the 3.5 hour drive up to see Grandma I said another prayer and then turned up the music to sing along as I drove.

When I arrived, I swung over to see Aunt Kathy and the kids for a few minutes then headed to Grandma’s house. At this point, it was … a little past lunchtime… The time I had told Grandma I would be there, but she didn’t care. She was just excited to hang out.

As we loaded into the car, she asked me where we were going.

“Red Lobster!” I told her.

“Oh, I LOVE Red Lobster!”

“I know. I did a little recon.” I told her with a smile.

We kept talking as I searched for Red Lobster in Google Maps.

Weird. The closest Red Lobster popping up was an hour away… “Grandma, which Red Lobster do you usually go to?”

She wasn’t sure.

I did a little more searching and realized I had been hoodwinked! I was going to drive another hour, one way, to take Grandma out for her birthday. Thankfully, I had already had a snack. It was close to 12:30 PM already!

We got comfortable and headed out.


Our Red Lobster Arrival

When we arrived at Red Lobster, we immediately noticed the LIVE Lobsters by the host station. Grandma, always easily excited, loved them and I did too. The Host loved that we loved them and proceeded to pull one out for us. As he did, the Lobster started flipping his tail quickly and Grandma and I got splashed! We loved it.

The Host put the Lobster back and I asked Grandma, “Do you want the one that splashed us for lunch?” 

We laughed and slowly followed the host to our seats.

Thankfully, by the time we actually sat down it was about 2:00 PM and the restaurant was pretty slow. We looked at the menu together and after a while, I realized I may have to help her order. She kept forgetting what she had just read and what we were doing. Ordering.

Our Waitress was so, so kind and stayed with us for at least five minutes answering questions before offering to come back so we could nail it down.

As Grandma read the menu again, I told her, “Anything you want Grandma! I’ve saved all my pennies for you.” She laughed and read the menu again.

After a little bit of finesse, Grandma ordered one of the “Signature Feasts” with grilled lobster, shrimp AND salmon. Then I ordered dessert first!

While Grandma was a little appalled by dessert first, I explained we couldn’t take the dessert home and it was her birthday after all. She laughed and agreed it was probably a good idea so she ordered a coffee as well.


Our Photo & A Stranger’s Kindness

Then another idea hit me. We needed a photo together! I moved over to Grandma’s side of the table and we tried to take a selfie together.

That’s when a couple of ladies who were sitting one table over offered to take a photo for us. Grateful to have something a little better than a selfie, I handed over my phone with thanks and wrapped my arm around Grandma.

The photo was perfect. We thanked the lady and continued to wait for our food. As we did Grandma asked me what she ordered at least 5 more times so I turned it into a game. How many different ways could I answer her question?

I don’t know if Grandma realized what I was doing, but it made something hard fun and I directed the conversation to other areas and the conversation flowed.

When our food arrived, after the dessert we had already shared, Grandma was shocked by what she had ordered, but I reminded her, that I told her she could have whatever she wanted. It’s her birthday and I was taking her out!

She smiled and we dug in.

As we were beginning to wrap up our very late lunch, the Waitress came over and told us the two ladies who took our photo had paid our bill.

Grandma and I were both surprised. She immediately got up and thanked the ladies for their kindness. As they were leaving, we thanked them again and they shared, “We weren’t eavesdropping, but I used to take my Grandma here all the time and it just brought us joy listening to you two.”

They’re eyes got teary and then mine did too. I was so, so grateful for people, strangers, who would show kindness to my Grandma.

We said our goodbyes and Grandma got a refresh on her coffee.



That’s when it happened…

Grandma decided that she really liked the Red Lobster mug and that she wanted to take it home with her.

If you know my Grandma, you know she is a tough cookie. She speaks her mind, always with love, and once she has an idea, she can get it done. I just KNEW she was about to ask someone if she could have this mug and I REALLY didn’t want her to because I was pretty sure they weren’t for sale.

Okay. No problem! I opened up my phone to see if I could purchase the mug online.

I. Had. No. Service.

All day. No issues and at this moment, I couldn’t get internet.

“What are you doing?” Grandma asked me.

“Ah. Seeing if I can buy this mug for you.”

“Well, why don’t you just ask this young man?”

“Ahhh because…”

“Excuse me.” Grandma asked the busboy. “It’s my 88th birthday today! I was wondering if I could have this mug.”

“We want to buy it. I want to buy it for her.” I quickly cut in.

The busboy smiled and said to Grandma, “I’ll see what I can do, but first, what is the secret to 88 years?”

Grandma thought about it for a minute and then without hesitation, she said, “Jesus.”

“Do you know him?” My Grandma asked him.

The busboy laughed and said, “I mean, my Mom took me to church growing up. I went to church till I was 18 or so, but now I have to work. Help take care of my family back home.”

“But the community!” Grandma said, “You’re missing out on so much of the goodness the Lord has to offer by not going to church.”

Grandma was about to say more, but it was like the Holy Spirit told her to stop talking and to just pray.

“Can I pray for you?” Grandma asked the server.

The man looked to me and then at my Grandma. After a second, he got teary eyed and asked Grandma to pray for his family.

She closed her eyes, grabbed his hand, and prayed over him. Over his family. That the Lord would provide for them. That they would find a great community and then thanked God for this man.

When she finished, I knew without a doubt the Lord had orchestrated this. The man looked down, trying not to cry. I think we were all trying not to cry. “Thank you,” he said. “Let me see what I can find out about this mug.”

When he came back, the mug was wrapped in one of Red Lobster’s bisect bags. He tucked it in with the rest of our leftovers, said thank you to Grandma again, and happy birthday.


The Drive Home & God’s Purpose

As we started the hour long drive back to Grandma’s house, Grandma talked about how much she just loved her new Red Lobster mug.

“I love it too Grandma, but I really love that you prayed over the man that gave it to you.”

“I did?” Grandma asked me.

So I proceeded to tell her about how she prayed over a stranger the Lord put in her path.

“Humm…” Grandma said mostly to herself. “I guess God does still have a purpose for me.” Then she turned and looked at me. “Maybe this can be my ministry.”

“I think it can be Grandma.”

Then without prompting she just started praying out loud. That God would continue to walk with us. That she would remember to be a ministry to others and then she thanked God for the man at Red Lobster.

In that moment, I silently prayed to the Lord and thanked him.

I thanked him that even with Grandma’s memory fading, the core of who she is, a follower of Jesus wasn’t. I thanked him for the joy she finds in life. That she loves the Lord so much that she would share him with a stranger and I thanked the Lord that when the time came, I knew for sure, she would be in Heaven with him.

As we continued our drive home, Grandma told me about how much she loved her new Red Lobster mug that she held in her hands.

I asked, “Do you remember praying for the man who gave it to you?”

“I did?” she asked me. So, I told her about the man she prayed for as we drove home. Three different times. In three different ways.


In Loving Memory of my Grandma, Betty L Tsao.

April 27, 1935- September 26, 2023



Thanks for following along. 

Much Love,

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