I established Gifted in 2006 as a labor of love and self preservation, when my life changed 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 for me, 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.
My husband 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. They were ages one and three at the time. My father, a hardworking family man that always held two jobs, had recently 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 in me.
The work of establishing Gifted was an endeavor that served as a release for 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 homework, 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 created memories of time spent together working, growing and healing side by side in our post 9/11 life. More than anything else, through owning the shop, my girls were able to see that though life does not always go as planned, there can be, and there should be, purpose, happiness and fulfillment even when bad, inexplicable, things happen.
Through a string of coincidences, or perhaps by divine intervention, 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 pitched ceiling with exposed beams, oak trimmed windows, ornate door knobs holding brass skeleton keys, were the embellishments of a quaint storybook cottage. Despite the pain and darkness of 2001, there I was, 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 we succeed when we persist. May sunlight grace your life with hope. Thank you for supporting this small business, the family behind it, and the spirit that guides it. -Naoemi