I established Gifted in 2006 as a labor of love and self preservation when life changed for me on September 11, 2001. My husband Joe, was among those that died that day in the attacks at the World Trade Center, in New York City. Life changed again, when American Airlines flight #587 crashed in Rockaway, Queens, Monday November 12, 2001, and my father was among the passengers. The plane crash occurred two days after my husband's funeral service.
Joe, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, was among the 343 firefighters that died at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He was my best friend, and a loving father to our two little girls, ages one and three at the time. My father, a hardworking family man that always held two jobs to make ends meet, was newly retired from his New York City agency job as a handyman. He was a sweet, generous man, with a kind disposition. An avid reader, my father instilled a love of books and knowledge in me.
The work of establishing Gifted served to relieve the tangled fears and anxieties of suddenly becoming a widowed mother of two. Family, friends and firefighters pitched in to help. When it was complete, the shop was sweet and beautiful. In the early years, my girls did their school work, and had after school snacks, in the rear of the store which I outfitted with cozy bean bags, lap desks and a small television for post homework down time. There, we pieced together a new life, and created memories of time spent together working, growing and healing side by side in our post 9/11 life. I worked long days and hours to establish my little shop. The creative work was a release for the sadness that I felt. My daughters watched, lived and learned that though life does not always go as planned, there can be, and there should be, purpose and fulfillment even when bad, inexplicable things happen in life.
Through a string of coincidences, or pure divine providence, in 2014, I was afforded the opportunity to move Gifted from its original location, to a small brick and stone cottage that my late husband Joe admired for years as he was growing up on Staten Island. The slate roof, pitched ceiling with exposed beams, and old pane windows of the 1927 structure were the embellishments of a quaint storybook cottage. Despite the pain, suffering and darkness in the aftermath of 9/11, there I stood, years later, the sun's warm light on my face, blessed with the opportunity to forge new goals, hopes and dreams in the little cottage that Joe loved.
Lemons in hand whenever life serves them, I've learned to make the best of what is, change what I can, and take steps forward. The road to the fulfillment of our goals, hopes and dreams is often strewn with struggles, fear, loss and pain, but I have learned that we succeed when we persist. May sunlight grace your life with love and hope. Thank you for supporting this small business, the family behind it, and the spirit that guides it.
With love and appreciation, Naoemi