Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi. I’ve had the pleasure of waiting on him and his wife and they were frequent visitors to the restaurant where I worked. By the time I waited on them he was in a wheelchair, and I never heard him speak. He was still an impressive man.

His wife, Margrit, was adorable! So friendly and charming and gracious! She reminded me a lot of Carol Channing with her wide smile and silver bob.

When the Mondavi’s came in for dinner Robert was wheeled in by a younger man and woman, who left after he was comfortable. Margrit took care of ordering and would attentively feed Robert and give him sips of champagne and wine.

A funny thing was they would usually bring their little white dog in it’s carrier. Dog’s aren’t allowed in restaurants unless they are seeing eye dogs, but what could we say? They are the Mondavi’s. Our Napa Valley royalty! Generally the darling little dog was good and quiet, but occasionally it would bark! All of the staff’s eyes would get big as we hoped that none of the guests complained. Sometimes Margrit would let the dog out and feed it under the table. One night as they were leaving and the younger couple had come to take them home, the man was pushing the wheelchair and the woman was holding the door and the little dog started running around through the center of the restaurant! Finally we shooed it out the door and the Mondavi’s were wisked away in their limosine.

We had a large event where the Mondavi’s were guests. I had to talk with the organizer and let him know that Robert was in a wheelchair as they had made no provisions for that and were unaware. They were under the impression that he was going to be giving a speech as well. I had to let them know that was doubtful unless his condition had changed since last I saw him. Margrit Mondavi had sat at Bouchon Bakery hand painting touches on all the menus as souvenirs for all the guests. They were such a lovely elegant touch. I am pleased to say I snagged one of the leftover menus at the end of the night!

Robert Mondavi died peacefully Friday morning, May 16, 2008 at his family home in Yountville, California at the age of 94. We were getting ready to celebrate his 95 birthday in June at Copia with a big event that included many of the world’s top chefs. The hope was that this event would continue in his memory. And what a memory he left.

Cheers to your memory, Robert Mondavi!

Adoption ~ My Story

I was adopted. No, no I wasn’t in an orphanage or anything. It wasn’t like Shirley Temple. It was pre-arranged before I was born by a mutual friend of my moms, Judy Donohoe. My Mom, Gerry Brewer, had several miscarriages and it was determined that she couldn’t have children. My birth mom, Grace Gordon, got pregnant by someone who wasn’t her husband while her husband, Jim Gordon, was away in the Air Force. Jim said, “It’s the baby or me!” Back in 1960 not many women worked or had careers. Abortion was illegal until 1973 when the U.S.Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that during the first trimester, a woman has the right to decide what happens to her body. It would have been a hard life for Grace and her children if she had gotten divorced. So, being 1960, and Grace having other children, she gave me up for adoption.

I was born on April 26, 1960 at Intercommunity Hospital in Fairfield, California. At nine days old I went home from the hospital with my new family and Laura Jane Brewer became a spoiled but sweet only child who had a pony. Apparently, my birth mom, Grace, would call and check on me until my parents asked her not to. It scared them too much because the birth mom can ask for the baby back up until it’s six months old. Also there was an incident when my parents were out at a pizza restaurant. Their name was called out, “Brewer!”, to come pick up their pizza, a woman with long reddish hair came up and asked them their name then hurried away. They think it must have been my mom. They all lived on Travis AFB, CA at the time.

I’ve never met my birth mom, but I’d like to meet her. I tried to search for her on the internet, but it’s a common name, and who knows if she stayed with her husband? She could have remarried and have a totally different name. Somewhere out there I have two or three or more half brothers and sisters. I’d love to meet them, to know them, to see if they look like me. Then there is my fathers side of the family, that’s another total mystery.

Being adopted is sometimes difficult. I don’t know my heritage. I don’t know my nationality. When the doctor asks I don’t know if I have a family history of any diseases, like heart disease or breast cancer. Maybe my family is rich!? Maybe I am decended from royalty!? Maybe they are poor and I could help them. I just don’t know?

But on the flip side, I have wonderful parents. I could not have been more loved. Although I think Grace loved me and was really torn up by the decision she had to make, I think she made the right one. She gave two people who desperately wanted a baby to love her child and made them a family. Thank you Grace.