Letters from Me, Day 21: Gail Beckwith, South Burlington, VT

Dear Gail, 

If you've been keeping up with my Facebook postings for the past few weeks, you may have seen that I'm writing 365 letters to the people that mean a lot to me in my life. When I was making my list of those people, I immediately thought of you. You have always been one of my closest family members, as we've spent some great times with you over the years. You've been a part of celebrations in our lives – big and small.

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I always loved visiting your place when I was little. You took the time to play games with me, read books, watch movies (Mary Poppins over and over again, anyone?) You showed me some of my favorite computer games early on - I remember a digital coloring game you introduced me to where you'd pick different hues and fill sections of a line drawing.

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It wasn't just digital art we did together. You are one of the craftiest, artsiest people I know, and, as a fellow crafter, I've been consistently inspired by your projects over the years. I hope I told you how sweet it was when you packaged up your candleholder project from last year, so that I could make some on my own. I ended up bringing the whole box to my friend Tate's house, and we decorated candleholders all afternoon with her daughters. I so appreciated you passing your creativity onto me, so I could pass it onto them. 

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Not only are you crafty, but you're artistic. Your paintings and works of art over the years have grown more beautiful. And then there's your photography. I've been following you on Picasa for several years - ever since you joined, I think. I used to get updates when you posted to an album, and I could go exploring, seeing the world through your eyes. You have such a penchant for getting great shots - of people, animals, nature, man made structures, and everything in between. I especially love your photos at home, the ones you took of Carl and more recently, of Bana.

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You've been generous with sharing your photos each year as well. At Christmas time, I always look forward to getting your yearly calendar, each with a different theme and a different set of images. This year's close-up animal faces are so gorgeous and unique. We've got a special place in our kitchen where we hang our calendar. This year, we'll be moving and will have to find a new place to hang it up!

I have so many wonderful memories of spending time with you over the years.

You're such a bright light in our family, and I'm always excited to see you when I take a trip to Vermont, or we meet in Queensbury for a weekend trip or summer picnic. I loved that we traveled to Seattle for the same weekend last summer, where we got to explore the city, the farm and the Washington coast. It was such a joy to get to spend a few days with you guys - not only getting to see where Jeff and Sue and Jess and Jake live - but getting to know you and Aunt Eileen just a little bit better. I feel that way every time we spend time together. Since I've been an adult, I haven't gotten to see my Vermont family as much as I'd like (especially since moving to Philly), but I always treasure the time I get with you.

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I fondly remember when you took the trip to come visit me in Philadelphia with my parents. I lived in Bryn Mawr at the time, and you were coming on a mission of great importance - to adopt the cat I'd spent so much of my life with, who was having a hard time with his new home. You were so sweet to him - I knew right away you'd be a perfect adopted mom to him. And you were. You treated him with such love and kindness. He flourished at your house, and spent his final years in comfort and happiness.

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There are so many reasons I adore you, Gail. You are compassionate, smart, creative, funny, kind and loving. You are a great sister, aunt, cousin, friend and pet owner. You make others happy by being yourself, and you live honestly and with great joy. 

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I wish you good things to come - peace of mind, comfort, happiness and adventure. Stay true to yourself, be well and see you very soon!

Love,

Amanda