Patricia Neal & Divine Lemonades

by Tonya Dixon | September 16th, 2016
Patricia Neal (Photo by Jarvis Harris)

Patricia Neal (Photo by Jarvis Harris)

After only one taste of Divine Lemonades nearly everyone has the same reaction: Amazing! That tastes great. I need more. It’s usually followed up by a battery of questions and comments such as, How did you make that? What are the ingredients? It can’t be good for you! It has to be full of sugar, right? What’s the recipe? How did you come up with those flavors? The list goes on and on.

Most people can’t quite adequately articulate the rich, yet light and refreshing taste of Divine Lemonades; but to put it quite simply, Divine Lemonades taste…divine. It’s partly how the drinks name was derived, but more importantly it’s because the business and recipe came through “divine” impartation. There are only two problems with Divine Lemonades: once people taste the refreshing drink they simply can’t stop drinking it and owner, master “lemonade maker” Patricia Neal can’t seem to quench their unending thirst. Of course, that’s more of a dilemma for their pockets, but most people are more than willing to pay as long as they can get some of Neal’s “Heaven In A Bottle.”

Neal is the founder, owner and operator of Divine Lemonades. Appropriately named “Divine Lemonades,” since she says she was “divinely” given the name and recipes for her drinks.

“Everything about the drinks is all natural. God gave me the recipe and I’ve been making it for nearly 16 years. It’s a combination of different things that gives it such a smooth and divine taste,” said Neal. “The business just grew out of something I just always did for myself. I’m the baby of eight siblings and whenever we had family functions I always made the tea and lemonade. I’ve always had the recipe. But it just wasn’t time yet for [the business] to be birthed.”

In the process of discovering her destiny and Divine Lemonades, Neal endured heartache and sickness nearly everywhere she turned. At one point in her life she found herself in a rocky relationship, married to a drug addict. The repercussions and ramifications from that alone would be enough to shake even the strongest person, but Neal held fast to her lifeline, which has always been her faith in God. She trusted God and did what she had to do for her three children and for herself.

Little did she know three years ago that her faith as well as her health would be put to the test yet again. After doctors detected a very large tumor in her breast, Neal was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She had to endure surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but even in her seemingly dire and desperate situation, God worked a miracle.

The cancer spread throughout her breast and doctors told her she would have to have a mastectomy, endure strong treatment options to keep the cancer from further invading her body and ultimately live a diminished-quality life. But Neal said God worked a miracle.

“The tumor shrunk on its own to the size of a raisin. The doctors told me I would have to have 20 rounds of chemotherapy; I only had four. They told me I would have to use walkers, bed pans, shower chairs, require a nurse and basically be a vegetable, but none of that happened. God gave me a revelation of the word cancer. Cancer contains the word “can.” When I saw that I said, ‘no matter what, I can do this. I can beat this,’” she says.

Throughout her health issues, God had people strategically introduced and placed in Neal’s life to make sure she was loved and cared for. Although she didn’t have very many blood family members she could depend on, in fact some nearly turned their backs on her, she was blessed with new “just like family” brothers, sisters and even parents. She was given people who not only encouraged her and spoke life into her situation, but literally made themselves physically available to make sure she and her children had everything they needed.

It was people like Tammara “Sissy” Broadnax, who couldn’t be closer to Neal than a blood sister, who stepped into her life at just the right time. Broadnax stood by her side throughout her illness, held fundraisers , assisted with her children and eventually became her business partner, serving as the operations manager for Divine Lemonades.

“I met Patricia when she became a member of the church I belong to. Our friendship kicked off and grew. I don’t have biological brothers and sisters,” said Broadnax. “God places people in your life for a reason and he has given me extended family who I consider my brothers and sisters and Patricia is one of them.” “When Patricia was diagnosed with breast cancer, I saw the fear and uncertainty of the unknown invade her thoughts. I assured her that with advances in technology and with the God we serve, this diagnosis did not have to be a death sentence and we would get through this together. As a true friend and sister, I could not turn my back on her. I was there to support Patricia during this time.”

In addition to Broadnax, Neal’s children, who range in age from 16 to 24, including daughter Morgan and son Sam, pitched in everywhere they could, even running her mobile car wash and keeping the business afloat when Neal simply wasn’t physically able to handle the demands of the job. As she thinks back, she notes so many others who helped her when she was down and sowed seeds into Divine Lemonades, including her brothers and sisters-in-law Melvin and Shirley Neal and Leon and Darlene Neal, Tena McNeil, Kay Neal and her surrogate parents Ronald and Margaret Colbert.

With so much help and encouragement around her and a body on the mend, Neal was finally able to devote more attention to her businesses, especially Divine Lemonades, but just when she thought all was well, her health was once again attacked. She became ill with pneumonia, which was readily treated, but when the antibiotics she was given negatively reacted with her chemotherapy medication her body completely shut down. Doctors were seconds away from having to shock her heart back to life, but at the last moment God intervened and yet again she now stands as a miracle.

Just like her miraculous life, Neal says Divine Lemonades is a testament to what God can do in His own timing. Although she has been making the drinks for years, only since February 2016 has it been available to the general public and made available in currently 15 stores throughout Eden, Reidsville and Greensboro, North Carolina as well as Ridgeway, Virginia. To Neal, the time wasn’t right until recently because God had to take her through a process first.

To date she offers 16 flavors of lemonade and tea including, original lemonade, mango, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, peach, pineapple, passion fruit, lime, kiwi and grape and tea blends including sweet tea, tea and lemonade mix, peach, mango and raspberry tea.

At price points of $1.49 and $1.99 people can’t seem to get enough of Divine Lemonades. Stores stocked with 300-500 bottles a week quickly sell out and as Neal puts it, “panic” until the shelves are restocked. One storeowner who’s been in business since 1977 said he’s never had anything sell out as fast as Divine Lemonades.

Tentatively scheduled to open in mid-October, customers will soon be able to walk into Neal’s own storefront to purchase her delicious drinks. With a goal of one day opening a Divine Lemonades manufacturing and distribution facility in Reidsville, bringing jobs to the area, Neal is literally taking the sour lemons in her life and turning them into Divine Lemonade.

Patricia Neal will be giving a percentage of her sales to help support breast cancer research and in memory of her late mother, Mrs. Mamie Wray-Neal. She also plans to give a percentage of her sales to the American Heart Association.

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