There are certain people that we immortalize because we can’t imagine a world in which they don’t exist. These are the rare few who have blessed our lives with such abundance that they’ve imprinted themselves into our existence. They are part of our story.
That’s how I felt about Ida Jean Mayhew. And I know I’m not alone. It was just too hard to imagine the day when her warm smile and charm wouldn’t welcome me when I walked through the door at The Goody Goody Omelet House. But sadly, that day has come.
On Monday, September 18th, Miss Mayhew passed away peacefully in her home at the age of eighty-nine.
I had the special privilege of spending time with her when I was writing my book, Redefine Rich. I would venture into The Goody in the black of morning, hours before it opened, and talk with her while she hand-pattied hamburgers and made her famous Spanish Sauce.
Those conversations were a treasure from a woman who knew no pretension and wanted no recognition other than the satisfaction of those she served. The Goody might operate under the motto, “Just Good Food,” but those who had the honor of enjoying a meal within its walls know that was just the beginning.
People Make Food Taste Better
I first graced the doorway of The Goody Goody Omelet House more than thirty-five years ago. Of course I don’t remember the experience because I was in a baby carrier at the time, but I’m pretty sure that the smell of bacon was imprinted on my nostrils from that moment on.
When I was a kid, we would visit The Goody almost every weekend—sometimes twice. Once for breakfast on Saturday and then again after church on Sunday. As I grew older, my fondness for The Goody grew as well. Before long, I began to recognize that it was more about the people than the food. It was a family.
Once I had the freedom of a driver’s license, the Goody became a staple on my way to New Hanover High School. Against the administration’s wishes, I would even sneak away at lunch for a double cheeseburger. For us Wildcats, it was almost a rite of passage.
As I think back to why The Goody became such a constant in my life, it was because of the people—the chief executive at the helm was Miss Mayhew. She was always more gracious than I deserved. She remembered my birthday. Every single one. And on more occasions that I care to admit, she refused to let me pay for my meal.
Miss Mayhew developed a special bond with my kids as well, always asking about them when they weren’t with me and always greeting them with a hug and kiss when they were.
“I love you,” she’d say in her tender southern drawl.
We loved her too. Everyone did. Her generosity was contagious. The food was always good, but she made it taste better.
A Legacy to Remember
A buzzword in today’s culture is legacy. We all talk about, dream about, and think about the legacy we’ll leave. To some, that might invoke images of a trust fund or a beach house or a building with our name on it. But Miss Mayhew reminds me that the greatest legacy you can leave is your unique fingerprint on the world. A true legacy isn’t calculated, it’s lived. It’s not about stuff or dollars. It never was. It’s about how you make people feel.
Unfortunately they don’t teach courses on this in college, but it’s one of the most important lessons life has to offer. Nothing great ever focuses solely on itself. True greatness focuses on others. As a result, it allows others to believe in their own greatness. That is why a great legacy is contagious.
Miss Mayhew made everyone feel like they were a champion. That’s what made her great. Her legacy is one of generosity, dedication, and selfless service to others. And because of that she’s one of the richest people I ever knew.
Do They Serve Omelets in Heaven?
As I was mourning the loss of my dear friend and the matriarch of The Goody Goody Omelet House, I began to pray. I thanked God for Miss Mayhew and her sweet spirit, I prayed for her family, her employees, and the many saddened by her passing. Then, I remembered, with fondness, her kindness to my family over the years and the impact she had on so many.
In that moment, a funny question came to my mind and my heart:
I wonder if Jesus likes omelets?
Now some of you might be offended by that thought and some may call it childish. But I had a special peace that my friend, Miss Ida Jean Mayhew, was rejoicing today and Jesus was smiling.
Yes, they serve omelets in heaven. And they’re the best you’ve ever tasted.
We’ll miss you, Miss Mayhew, and we love you.
From all of us.