Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye Momma and Papa

I've been avoiding this post---I suppose for the same reason one avoids the dentist--if you don't go you fool yourself into thinking that avoidance is better,  so you uncomfortably live a little longer in the realm of denial...but, really that's just stupid....

We at Apotheca are so blessed to have regular customers who have become like extended members of my already extended family!  Many know, but to those who don't know, or have not yet formally heard, my parents and youngest bro have moved back to the homeland--aka Minnesota.  Or in the words of  Garrison Keillor  to "where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."  actually that was Lake Wobegon, specifically, but, whatever.  

It's my fault really.  I was the mastermind behind the plan of familial congregation.  I am from a family of 9 children (yes, dad is the Mack) and a little togetherness was quite over-due.  ( no this pix is NOT my family, but let lemme tellya, at Christmas with all the kids and grandkids, it kinda feels like it!).

It was wonderful for a long while, and I don't regret one moment of our close geographic proximity  The memories we've been left with are far too goodl!...but as is the case with very good things-- like dark belgian chocolate-- it soon melts completely in your mouth and slithers down your throat and before long your left with nothing more than subtly flavored saliva-  which does linger quite nicely.  (Sorry, I'm in a really weird mood...speaking of chocolate Mom, we haven't ordered any in a long time!  Maybe we should look into Cafe Tasse again?...)

In the time that I have been dawdling -- I've decided that the written offering should be more of a commemoration to the Burney clan's contribution to Apotheca rather than a good-bye, so....

In the month of December, 2005 
I was scared out of mind and sense and cracked the egg on a crazy plan I had to start a business.  I pitched it to a few close friends and, of course, my fabulous family.  

It is first necessary for you to understand that I come from a bloodline of dreamers and risk takers and mild idiots.  They have all lived life to the fullest---not always made choices that benefited the bank account, but choices that left them with family, good friends, and tales of adventure.  So it shouldn't have surprised me one bit when they hopped on the saddle and said, "alright, hon, go for it.  Here's 5k.  Pay us back when you can..."  but it did surprise me... to tears, actually.

Once the decision was made, I took a step forward and didn't look back.  One of my first business relationships was established with Marshall Malone of Portsmouth Tea Company.  My Mom came with me.  I didn't know what the heck I was doing--neither did she--but we were both a little braver having the other by our side.  I was negotiating with Marshall to sell and serve his tea.  At the time Portsmouth Tea Company was in virgin flight itself!  I remember Marshall asking me what I was going to do if it didn't work.  I said, "if what didn't work?"   "the business." he replied.  The question took me a bit off guard.  "It has to work.  It will work. There really isn't another option".  My Mom then went into a monologue about my business sense and stubborn determination and creative eye for detail and design.  If I could just believe and be everything she thought I was, I knew I'd be just fine : )  Marshall took a chance on me, I'm so grateful for that!  Thanks Marshall. (pix of Mom in the old shop)

 Mom's role evolved from cheerleader and co-brainstormer, to being those things plus my full-out office manger, taking care of payroll, billing, and designing and maintaining our website--most of which she is still doing from Minnesota BTW!  (Mom at her home office, Brynne 'helping' with paperwork.)

Dad's just as much a dreamer--but even more the facilitator.  I grew up hearing Mom say, " So Russ, I was thinking...what if we...."  Dad would usually interject with an "Oh boy, here it comes....." but he loved it : )  When they lived in Cantwell, Alaska, he started the 'Cantwell Spring Rendezvous'.  People come from all over to gather in an otherwise obsolete town for a small scale version of the winter games--Alaska style.  Trapsetting, Barefoot Races on the Ice, Dog Sled Racing, Shooting Contests, etc.   Dad made it happen years ago and it's still celebrated there today! I have a feeling a connection to one of Mom's hairbrained schemes could be found somewhere in that!

So, when Apotheca was ready to expand in the Spring of '08, my dad (retired AirForce, Vietnam Vet, Business Owner, Furniture Salesman, Carpenter--known to most of the shop family as 'Papa') spent the better part of every waking moment for 3 months helping me bring my "vision for the space" into a workable reality.  How blessed am I?!?

That period of time will forever be at the top of cherished memories for me!  The kiddos making forts and running about the construction site, me bouncing ideas off of Mom, my little bros and Matt bringing me back to earth with what I really could do and couldn't do, Caleb and Ben and Mij building our "shed" (flower cooler), Matt masterminding the espresso bar and Dad bringing it all together. 

I remember cringing as we waited for our Certificate of Occupancy, and feeling the love pour in when a whole slew of customers showed up and volunteered their time to help us move in! 
 Dad's role morphed from facilitator and babysitter to gopher man and cheer committee.  Working his Charisma to it's fullest extent, he picked up paperwork, bagels, made loose-end deliveries and our Sam's run; of course making friends and brightening everyone's day at each locale--not to mention giving Apotheca a plug whenever he could!  By the way, Dad, you're chair 's a little lonely without you, Kristin misses making your Carmel Lattes, Kim from Panera says hi (again), and Brynne is still hoping her birthday wish comes true.....

So, a lot of our customers have asked , "why in the world did they move!?!"  My response is usually, " I have no idea, they are crazy."  I have a confession though.  Deep down, I get it.  The sky was calling their name.  You know, at least those who have traveled know.  The open space?  Flight?  Something New...Yet familiar.  They supressed it for as long as they could.  I miss them, so much some days that the ache gets all balled up in my throat --but I get it.

The Open Road Leading to Open Sky
Late Sunset at The Cornfield
Dad on his tractor : )

So, late on the night before we officially opened in the new space at our beloved train station in July of last year, I crossed the street with a stool and just sat, watching my family bustling inside.  I took some pictures of our beautifully lit space, and marveled at how we all worked to bring it together.   I caught a glimpse of my feet...  I remember wondering, "so,size 10's, where are you gonna be next year?"  I snapped a picture.  

Here I am.  

  You never know exactly where the path leads, and you're always going to have your ups and your downs.  But man, life is a gift.  I am so grateful for the people that love me, and that I love with all my heart.  Thanks Mom and Dad and Kim, Lisa, Jeff, Tim, Josh, Ben, Caleb, Jeremiah, Matt, and my Noah and Brynne.  And thank you to the incredible people I work with everyday, and thank you to the customers that support, encourage, and keep us going.  
And, God, You are one rockin' Dude.  : )  Thank you.

"The freedom and simple beauty is too good to pass up..."
                                               --Christopher McCandless

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you have outpaced us in many ways...we are grateful to you as well. Thank you.