As I planned this post, I turned to one of my moleskin notebooks where I keep personal thoughts, dreams, quotes, magazine clippings and cherished family mementos and photos. As I flipped through the first notebook in search of a photo, I found and reread the letter Joan wrote to me on May 24, 2002, the day of my high school graduation. I have carried it around for the past ten years, and although I have reread it many times, I hadn't read it since I started this new chapter in my life and career.
When family, friends or complete strangers ask me about Gerald & Joan, I often find myself either tongue-tied or describing it in general, somewhat boring, terms.
This letter shares the mission of Gerald & Joan so perfectly. Gerald & Joan is about family, heritage and telling stories. It's where the past, present and future come together. It's about preserving memories for future generations, focusing on the simple pleasures in life and treasuring every moment along the way. Gerald & Joan is a delicious but healthy recipe, a sweet card or invitation and a passage on an inspiring website. It's your grandmother's china, a favorite book, a getaway to pretty destination and a gathering with family and friends. It makes you smile and occasionally shed a happy tear. It's nostalgic, timeless and it feels like home.
My dearest Crystel, my sweet granddaughter,
Graduation is your first big milestone. You are a young, beautiful lady now. From the first moment I saw you, such a beautiful baby, with crystal blue eyes you could just drop into, you stole my heart.
As strange as it was, in a crowded airport and noisy, after a long trip from England, Mommy laid you in my arms. I cried tears of joy and hugged you so tight. You never cried, just looked at me with the confidence of an angel, as if to say, "I know you. That's my Grandma who loves me."
I am so very proud of you today as I have been all your life. I know you have the strength and determination to get through any task that may be ahead for you.
Life is not always easy, yet I have faith in you to meet it head on and rise to the challenge.
Your Great Great Grandma gave me this silver dollar when I was just a little girl. Now I am passing it on to you. Not because it is an old dollar, but because of all the love it holds for me inside, for you and my Grandma. She was a very special, loving person like you -- a proud and strong and loyal person who was caring to others and had faith in God which helped her in many ways through her long and happy life.
I want you to have a wonderful life, and I know these qualities are you, as the two of you do have so much in common. Her name you share, link you together.
When you look at this dollar, I want you to remember all the people around you who love you and angels above that will always watch over you...Besides you will never be broke.
I will always be one of those that love you dearly and will always watch over you.
Happy Birthday, my sweet grandma.