Keys beloved Chad Gardner left us this week. Our little community has been hit too hard lately...we have suffered a lot of losses. One thing I am sure of, they will be eating well at the big table in the sky today. Here is the official announcement from the family:
Chad Gardner, on Monday January 18th, 2016 collapsed at his restaurant due to a massive heart attack. After 4 days of being in two different hospitals, running tests, trying procedures to reduce swelling in his brain, we finally have received a new scan and information from the doctors which have confirmed what we were most dreading. Chad has sustained severe brain damage because oxygen was not being pumped from his heart. The loss of oxygen to his brain and swelling has caused there to be no more brain function. Multiple tests have proven that he is no longer with us. Chad is an organ donor and his organs will be used to help other people. At this time our family is thankful for the prayers and well wishes from the community but would like to be given a few days to process this information and make arrangements. We will be planning a community celebration of life in Chads honor and that will be announced at a later date. Thank you for you understanding. He's riding off into the sunset.
In addition to his deli, Chad was much loved as a girl's volleyball coach, he was a valuable member of our community and a great guy and friend to so many. I personally can't even begin to count how many times Chad has fed me over the years. When I say that he fed us at least weekly for a decade, I really am NOT exaggerating! Sometimes more than once a week if we were too lazy to go grocery shopping. We pretty much always called in our orders for pickup, and if he heard from us several times a week, Chad would make a joke about us not wanting to go to Winn Dixie. He knew! His chicken salad is the best chicken salad, period, bar none...and I'm something of a chicken salad connoisseur.
One of my favorite Chad stories happened in late October 2014. Scott had finally finished his last round of radiation treatment in Boston and I was bringing him home for good. We were very public with the joy of that occasion and the road trip home from Boston, which included a stop in Atlanta to pick up our cat, SugarBear, who had been fostered for 6 months while we had been in Boston. We finally arrived in the Keys; it was late, we were tired. As soon as we got off the stretch, Scott called Chad's so we could pick up a late dinner on the way home...we had been gone so long, we knew there was no food at the house. Chad had been following the details of the road trip on Facebook, and as soon as he realized it was Scott, he said, "Am I your first stop after getting back into the Keys?!" He was tickled.
When we pulled into the deli parking lot, I stayed in the car with SugarBear and Scott went in to pick up dinner. Well, Chad knew that we had the cat with us, and he had packed up an order of raw tuna for him along with our dinner! He even followed Scott back out to the car to meet SugarBear (and say hi to me!) We never told Chad that SugarBear is a weird cat and won't eat anything except his cat food...not even raw tuna! So, Scott and I put a little soy sauce on that tuna and it was delicious!
I'm still in shock. I can't believe that I won't see his face behind the counter next time I go in. I can't believe he is gone. Just like that. It really brings home that you just never know what might happen from one minute to the next. Make the most of every single day, do what you love, be with those you love and don't wast a single second.
RIP Chad. We will miss you buddy. The Keys are a little smaller today.
Click here to read more about Chad's Deli.
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