I started writing this column while spending the weekend at the Jersey Shore where my mom has a home, and where, for most of my childhood life, work and life blurred together. My parents, who owned a series of beachfront motels while I was growing up, made little effort to separate work and life.
If we went out for dinner, we always stopped by the motel on the way home. On these visits, I sat in the car, listening to the radio or dozing, wondering what was keeping them. Sometimes my mom waited with me while my dad went inside. After my dad passed away and my mom took over the business, she was the one going inside.
When I finally joined her a few times, I realized why she stayed there so long. She enjoyed talking to the night clerk and whoever else was hanging around. They chatted about mundane news and local gossip: a guest disliked the room and wanted a refund; a family had driven all the way down to the shore only to learn of a crisis that required them to turn around; a crowd of drunken promgoers had ransacked the motel next door; the local convenience store now stocked vanilla-flavored coffee. These moments were more than merely catching up on business. My parents were checking in on another child, something they had built, nurtured and loved.