ST. MARYS, Ga. — Bob and Sue Grose got married when they were 80.
“We asked for five years,″ he said Tuesday night leaning over her wheelchair. “We made. We beat it, didn’t we girl?”
They beat it by four years.
It was a tender moment in a night that they could only dream of.
Head chef Richard Laughlin and Robert Ardinzer, manager of their favorite restaurant, Salt, at The Ritz-Carlton, were in her kitchen at Osprey Cove preparing their dinner.
Sue Grose had been in rehab for 115 days and her son, Bill Williams, said the promise of dinner at Salt was an incentive to get out. But homebound from stage 4 breast cancer, she was unable to go.
When Williams dined alone recently at Salt, Ardinzer said he was eager to see one of his devoted customers again only to learn Sue Grose couldn’t come.
“Since she couldn’t come to us,″ Ardinzer said, “the only thing we could do for her was to come to her.”
And they did Tuesday night, bringing a few things that needed only to be warmed up but others that Laughlin prepared in Sue Grose’s kitchen as she watched delighted.
He showed her the heads of romaine he had grilled and then quartered for salads. He brought crumbled blue cheese, which she loves.
“How can you top this?” Sue Grose said watching Laughlin work.
“Unbelievable,″ her son said. “Her heart is so full now.”
Laughlin used some of Sue Grose’s pots and pans, but he also brought his own portable butane stove that he said is perfect for searing the beef tenderloin he would serve Sue Grose. He sliced the beef and seasoned it with ramp salt before cooking it.
He brought along thick scallops, Bob Grose’s favorite.
“The best of the best,″ Bob Grose said looking at his still uncooked main course.
Sue Grose was so taken by watching Laughlin cook it took a lot of urging to get her into the dining room where the salads waited.
A lot of tears were shed, by Bob Grose and by Williams.
Ardinzer appeared to have trouble maintaining his composure as he spoke with Sue Grose and bent to hug her in her chair. He had lost his own mother just a year earlier.
“It’s so bittersweet for me to be here now and serve you,″ he said, “so thank you.”
As for Laughlin, he answered every question the Groses had as he worked his way through an amazing array that included bacon, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, mixed vegetables and chicken.
“Just the smile on her face was worth it,” said Laughlin as the Groses ate and he finally worked alone in the kitchen.
At the table, Williams, his mother and his stepfather touched glasses as Williams teared up while offering a toast, “To a life well lived.”