Couple finds joy in helping

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

Many find themselves with ‘empty nest syndrome’ after children are grown, a condition arriving when couples should feel accomplishment, having successfully reared offspring to adulthood.

Yet millions feel let down or unfulfilled at this time. Some marriages unravel.

Randy and Marlene Garmon, owners of Catfish Landing in Chelsea, have discovered the solution. It’s togetherness and helping others.

Their grandchildren, owning a restaurant and working in a volunteer ministry called Hearts in Hands give their lives purpose.

Randy Garmon retired from a career with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Marlene has more than two decades of restaurant experience. Opening a family restaurant was a natural progression of events.

“We’ve both been shift workers all our lives, and wanted something we could do together. I love our 24/7 togetherness,” Randy said, smiling at his wife of 32 years. “It’s brought us closer.”

Marlene told of Randy’s role in the restaurant.

“He’s the social butterfly,” she said, and mentioned how he mingles with customers, watches over the cooks and knows the kitchen. That’s a multitasking act that keeps them both breathless, yet smiling.

Marlene explained how the restaurant provides a community gathering place with a family atmosphere. They close on Sunday to spend time with family and to worship.

They provide quality food prepared only from domestic purchases, with one exception: tilapia.

“We don’t cut corners,” Randy said. “All is home made from freshest ingredients. We pay more for a consistent quality product for our valued customers.”

Catfish Landing is a white country cottage with rockers on a wide front porch. It sits on a hill north of U.S. 280 in Chelsea.

A glance around the lofty dining area reveals a pleasant atmosphere.

Food is so fresh you’d think you’re in your mama’s kitchen, hushpuppies fluffy and flavorful, fish light and crunchy. The tart cherries in a cobbler bring pleasant balance to its sweet cookie crumb crust.

The restaurant is only one aspect of the Garmon’s fulfillment. On Saturday morning they join volunteers in the Hearts in Hands ministry.

This organization, directed by Frank Burder, provides assistance to Shelby County folks on hospice, debilitated by illness or age. They do yard work, and build wheelchair ramps or repair porches.

“Our highlight of the day is coming home together and saying, ‘We’re home’,” said Marlene. “Every day is a beautiful blessing.”

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at