My hometown is host to a superwoman. Many locals sip her steamy cappuccinos or me, soy lattes with her sweet barista stamp: a heart swirled into the milky froth. Most of us in town had no idea the owner of Café Papillon was a heroine in her home country of Cambodia, saving her family from starvation starting at the age of five. Her book, Remember to Remember tells us her story as written by Jil Plummer, a frequent patron.
Brenda, a superhero and super-barista sat with my book club buddies to discuss the making of her book. Brenda always told her daughters how lucky they were to live in United States with food, cars, cell phones and safety. Were her words sticking? She wanted to write it down but working seven days a week made the task all but impossible. Jil Plummer floated into her life and offered to write Brenda’s story for her. In the process of reminding her daughters of their fortunate circumstances, she reminded her coffee-lover customers how lucky they were too.
Brenda’s saga begins in the 70s, when a communist party, the Khmer Rouge, ruled Cambodia. Millions were sent to cooperatives to work the land and millions died in the process. Most of the story is about Brenda trying to help feed and house her family at a young age and her drive to be reunited with her father in the United States. My book club wondered how a five-year-old could be so wise and so brave? When you meet Brenda, it is clear she was born with a survivalist mentality.
One of her dreams was to finish a business degree but life did not take her the college route. She learned business the hard way by owning two storefronts: a donut shop and now a café. Her horrific childhood made her fearless to try anything, something business school could never teach anyone.
When Brenda and her husband decided to buy a donut shop, her husband was worried about the financials. Brenda very confidently told him, “I can take care of the business. You just make sure you know how to make donuts.”
That’s Brenda. She is ever the pillar of strength and the drive behind the family’s success. Read her book and I bet you will want to race over to her café to give her a huge, huge hug and drink her lattes forever.
*Remember to Remember books are available at Cafe Papillon and on Amazon.com.Share on Facebook