Your guests visit your bed and breakfast for a number of reasons. Perhaps your local area has popular restaurants, shops, entertainment venues, events, and attractions. You may have a strong reputation for good hospitality and luxurious accommodations. Your location may be the perfect stopping point on their long road trip. Of course, guests arrive to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, retirements, and more. All of these are happy reasons for their stay.
We Never Know What Crisis May Come
However, not all of your guests visit for happy reasons. You never know what struggles they and their loved ones may be enduring. Jeannie Gaffigan (wife of stand-up comedian and actor Jim Gaffigan, and mother to their five children) certainly could not have predicted the health challenges she would have to go through. Fortunately for her, she had a strong support network of family, friends, and prayer warriors.
When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People released in the beginning of October is now the #1 bestselling comedy book on Amazon. While she faced life-threatening challenges (including a brain tumor the size and shape of a pear), she used her experience as an award-winning comedy writer and wife (to a famous comedian) and mother (of five) to poignantly share her journey (with humor mixed in).
She Gives Credit Where Credit Is Due
No one could have predicted the challenges she would have to overcome. She thanks the medical professionals for saving her life. She also gives credit to her husband Jim for his leadership in organizing around the clock care for their five kids and having at least one visitor with her at all times during her lengthy hospital stay. Plus, she needed major medical care and required physical therapy when she was finally released from the hospital. She is thankful for the prayers of loved ones and to God for the miracle that she survived.
The List of Do’s and Don’ts
Given her medical struggles, she (with the help of her sister Lizzy) made a DOs and DON’Ts list for family members helping in the hospital, including:
- Don’t talk about delicious food if patient can’t eat
- Do arrange room and organize personal property since the patient can’t move
- Don’t say, “It’s not so bad.”
- Do express empathy.
- Don’t complain about not getting enough sleep.
- Do organize the cards people have sent.
- Don’t bring flowers into ICU; give them to the nurses’ station
She also made a list of rules for herself including: Do love your big family and be kind to them when they are health–they will save you when you are sick; Don’t make a rules list about your family and publish it in a book. (That made me laugh!)
Her Relationship With Comedian Husband Jim Gaffigan
Not only will you get to know Jeannie, you will learn how she and Jim came to know each other and read what she did the first time she saw where he was living as a single guy on the road a lot (it involves a lot of cleaning). She ends Part III of her book with, “The oldest of 9 children, the ultimate caregiver, marries the youngest of 6, the ultimate care-getter. A match made in co-dependent heaven.” (If there is any doubt as to who she was referring to, she was the oldest sibling in her family and Jim was the youngest sibling in his family.)
A New Appreciation For Her Life and Family
Their love for each other, their children, and their larger families is very evident when reading this book. In fact, she was surprised at how well Jim really learned what he needed to in order to take care of her medical needs at home. She realized that she should live in the moment more. Not everything in their house needs to be labeled and organized. She’s decided she will say yes more often when her children want her to read them a story, for example. Faith, family, and health are her highest priorities. Also humor!
Innkeepers, while your guests may not share with you the sad reasons for their visit, most of you are very perceptive as to the level of interaction a guest would like to have with you. In fact, many of your returning guests come back because of the hospitality, sensitivity, and grace you show when your guests visit.