I tell visitors the story behind my colorful shop on Fifth Avenue South
in Naples, Florida there
is a timeline that weaves two stories and
two lives together. The real “Lady from Haiti,” for whom the
store is named, is my adopted daughter, Rachel.
It all began in the mid 1980’s when I went to Haiti as a teacher. I stayed
for six years teaching second grade in a private school and the American Red
Cross swimming program after school and in the summertime.
After a couple years I said to myself that it was
time to leave the island and to get on with my life. Maybe begin a family. But
I just couldn’t make
myself actually break away. Each year I’d sell my car and say, “That’s
it!” but I always ended up staying. I bought and sold three cars that
and for the longest time I just couldn’t figure under what spell
Finally the mystery of why leaving Haiti was so
difficult was solved for me. A beautiful Haitian baby girl, whose natural mother
could not afford to care
for her, was about to be born, and it was a match made in heaven.
I first saw Rachel on a sonogram, and we met face
to face six weeks later, when Rachel was exactly one month old. As
soon as all
the red tape and bureaucratic
requirements were met, we two ladies from Haiti were allowed to leave the country
and begin our lives together.
“The Lady from Haiti” Caribbean art
gallery and gift boutique thus came into being. Rachel has grown up with the
assurance that her native culture
is wonderfully creative and exciting, and I am able to be my own boss in the
sometimes stressful and often isolating world of single motherhood. It’s
a win-win-win situation for everybody. I can’t get fired when I’m
late too often; Rachel has a unique definition in Naples; and people absolutely
the Haitian colors and Haitian spirit shining through the artwork.
Years ago when my father
passed, he left his children a note saying his legacy to us was love. At the
time I really couldn't comprehend all that he meant by that. Now, as a parent
myself, I certainly do. Our store is my labor of love for my daughter, and I
am a very lucky lady in being able to provide for her in the way that I do.