When 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 way, and for the longest time I just couldn’t figure under what spell I was living.
     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 love 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.

 
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