Across the globe, restaurants and other businesses have closed their doors to help keep the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to a minimum. At some places, like MePa’s Diner in Louisiana, the kitchens are still operating, but customers can only get carry-out meals. Melissa Dykes, who owns the restaurant, has made changes to her menu to be able to send larger meals fit for a family of six home with her customers at low prices, because she knows how difficult things are financially for many people during this time. However, MePa’s has made one distinct exception to this rule for a very special pair of patrons.
Ruth and Bill Jordan have eaten lunch at MePa’s Diner every single day for the last two years. Ruth was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago and can’t cook due to her shakiness and memory problems. And Bill never learned to cook at all, because Ruth always did it for him when they were younger. Now that neither of them can really cook very easily, they rely on going to their favorite diner to eat each day.
Ruth and Bill are two of the most well-known and favorite customers at MePa’s, and Melissa knew she had to do something special to help them during this difficult time, especially since the eating-out options are limited. So she decided to keep her dining room open just for the pair of them to be able to eat their daily meal there.
“We come back every day. I don’t cook…She has dementia,” says Bill. “It’s important we do a lot of the same things. Otherwise, she gets confused.”
Because of Ruth’s memory loss, she thrives on consistency and has trouble understanding changes in her regular schedule. She gets confused easily and likes to do the same things the same way every day so she can stay more grounded in reality. She wakes up at the same time every day, eats the same thing for breakfast every day, and has the same ham-and-cheese omelet for lunch at MePa’s Diner. Being able to continue to come to her favorite place each day for lunch has helped Ruth maintain a sense of normalcy in her life during COVID-19.
Toward the end of every meal at MePa’s, Melissa joins the elderly couple for a gospel song before they head back home. What a perfect way to spread some joy and love to someone else during COVID-19!
Check out the video below to see the awesome things Melissa Dykes and the rest of the staff at MePa’s Diner are doing for their community and in particular for their favorite patrons, Ruth and Bill. Thank you, MePa’s, for your dedication to helping your community!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?