ABOVE: Brenda with a small sampling of the flowers she received.
It all started with a random conversation. What followed was an avalanche of Valentine’s Day kindness.
Yesterday was a day like many others when David Oliver Willis patronized the Waffle House in Mount Dora. The local singer-songwriter has been a fixture there ever since the location opened a few years back. After ordering his All-Star Special breakfast, Willis chatted up his waitress, whom he strangely had never met there before. He quickly learned the server, Brenda Cheek, was a beloved employee who had been with Waffle House for 36 years today, Valentine's Day.
ABOVE: Willis (right) with Ms. Brenda.
During Willis’ friendly conversation, the two discussed Valentine’s Day and Brenda reminded Willis to buy flowers for his sweetheart. At some point she mentioned she was going to pick up some for herself after work. Curious, Willis asked the server why. Reluctantly, Brenda disclosed she had lost her husband, also named David, in a fatal accident just over two months ago.
Willis, known for his kind heart and social media savvy, took to Facebook with a simple request--he asked friends to surprise the grieving server by bringing her some flowers with a message they are from her “Sweetheart”.
His post yesterday read: "There is a very special lady that works at Waffle House (Mount Dora location) and has worked for the company for 36 years tomorrow (Valentines Day). She lost her sweetheart 68 days ago in a fatal accident and mentioned that she might buy herself some flowers "from him" after work. If you will make time, it'd be awesome to buy her a single flower, pick her a flower, or a bouquet and drop it off on Valentines Day with a note: To: Brenda From: Your Sweetheart" Her shift is from 6:00AM-2:00PM I think that small impact could really touch her heart. Love is what it does."
The post was shared two hundred times and the response was overwhelming. This morning, a steady stream of residents delivered flowers for Brenda, along with the personal message. The humble and grateful recipient tried hard to keep composed as the random acts of kindness began to pile high on the restaurant’s small counter.
ABOVE: Brenda among the love showered upon here. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Aenchbacher)
When Willis delivered his own card and flowers this morning, he was elated with the outpouring he saw.
“It’s huge! They emptied out the dessert cooler to fill it with some of the flowers,” said Willis of the growing mound of flowers that had been personally delivered throughout the morning. The Waffle House’s staff room was also overflowing with balloons, chocolates, stuffed bears and cards left for the waitress.
Brenda tearfully confided to Willis that she didn’t want to come to work today due to the emptiness she felt. By noon she was overwhelmed that a part of it was filled by the kindness of others, according to Willis.
“I’m so grateful to see how our community has stood beside me in showing her such a simple, yet powerful, gesture of love,” said Willis.