I came in to work yesterday, pretty late because I was signing my car away to Mom, and we stopped to have our last lunch together before I go. I called Diane to tell her I was late, and she sounded pretty tense about it. I felt bad, because she’s been very busy lately and I knew we were supposed to have an 11:30 meeting, and by then it was noon, but I couldn’t put a meeting before saying bye to Mom. So I asked her for another 40 min, and she “begrudgingly” granted it.

After saying my goodbyes to Mom, I came into the office, and our interns Jennifer and Phuong referred me to the conference room, where part of the team was waiting for me in a meeting. As I walked toward the front of the office, I noticed a green grass skirt on on of the worktables, and a big cooler, and trays of food, taped up and labeled.Ahi tuna pillows

Notice the Maori watching us from behind the mural

No one was in the conference room. In fact, other than the interns, the office seemed pretty much empty — typical for lunch hour. I was overcome with feelings of remorse as it dawned on me: “Oh no…OH NO,” I said, “I am SUCH A JERK…” as I rounded the corner, and out popped the whole BG crew from around the lobby corner, donning life jackets and hula skirts and leis. The lobby floor was covered in 4″ of sand, there was a mural with a sunset and a boat on the horizon, and on the bow of the boat, Santa! There were palm trees, fishing nets, oars, life rings, a ship’s wheel, lobsters and crabs…and a Maori warrior peeking out from behind the mural! It was INCREDIBLE! I had no idea. I’ve been so occupied for so many weeks with so many things that a farewell party hadn’t even crossed my mind.

It was the perfect Polynesian farewell party. Catering was by Liz Grenamyer, my favorite Jacksonville caterer, and we had ahi tuna pillows with ponzu sauce, sweet and spicy shrimp on sugar cane skewers, fresh spring rolls with plum chili sauce, red velvet cake, ceviche and chicken and pineapple skewers with peanut sauce. We paired it with margaritas and suds. It was amazing.

Thanks so much Brunet-García! You all have been and always will be the best.