Of the many, many things we learned during our first year as Innkeepers, one of the most emotional for us is that our life as a family continues – in fact it happens with and in front of our guests. These last few months have exampled that more than we ever imagined.
We finished a strong summer, one of the strongest of the Inn’s history, and as we eased into the beautiful fall season here on the Shore, we had what I have called a call “Cosmic Dogpile” of family changes and trauma. Matt changed departments at work, so in addition to his efforts here at the Inn, he had to adjust to fairly significant job stress. Matt also took on a few new responsibilities at his church by leading a time intensive and emotionally challenging ministry (Celebrate Recovery) and he also agreed to serve as the Treasurer of the Onancock Business and Civic Association; no heavy lifting here, but time nonetheless.
Kim continues to make the Inn the warmest of Inns by gardening, cooking amazing new recipes, and oh, we agreed to be on the Onancock Christmas Homes Tour – which, while Matt is the Christmas decorator, fell heavily onto Kim’s shoulders because of those changes in Matt’s world.
That’s enough intensity, one would hope, but then the unthinkable happened. Our girl, Freya, our best friend, and companion got ill and died suddenly. The day we needed to put her to sleep, we had new guests and Wine Down Hour. That was such an emotional conflict for us because we love our Freya and we know we made the best choice for her, but to have that and upbeat conversation in the same evening was a challenge. It wasn’t phony or pasted on, because we genuinely love having guests in our home and we understand that this is their time to relax and get a quick escape from reality, not to climb into ours. Dante has the temperament of an old and gentle soul and if were not for his companionship and puppy-vibe, this transition would have been simply awful – he is a good boy and a smile in the making.
Kim’s parents spend six-months in England and six-months in Florida. The night of the flight to come home to Florida, her dad had a massive stroke and within a couple of days, passed away. Family circled around as families abounding in love do, and we did all we could do to allow Kim her time to be with her mom (married 54 years!) and English family. As guests came through, all were warm, tender, and understanding.
As an aside (this is Matt), Ron (Kim’s dad) was simply one of the finest men I have ever met. He had a natural smile that warmed every heart, an informed mind that challenged every thought, but most of all, Ron loved and took care of his girls. His wife of 54 years and his daughters brought him contentment and joy indescribable to anyone who didn’t experience it firsthand. He raised the mantle of manhood in this family and it is an honor to have had a role model to emulate and continue his family legacy.
We learned so much this year – mostly about how to make our guest’s Inn experience even better, but we also learned that life as an Innkeeper is life – no escaping it – and I think this separates the motives on Innkeepers. This is our home at the same time it is your inn and discovering that balance will take time and nuance.
While we faced stressors at every front, we are so grateful for our first year and every guest that crossed our threshold – and even though we are taking a few well-earned weeks away – we are really eager to welcome our 2018 guests and to live life on life’s terms with you.
Let me memories begin!