Sometimes we're fortunate enough to make a connection with another person whom you just know is forging a special path through life and taking others along for the ride.
This week, I met an entire family.
Some of you are familiar with the granite beads that we carry which are crafted in New Hampshire. On Tuesday, I went to the Sunapee GraniteWorks to meet the people behind
I thought I'd see some granite (duh) and maybe see something being made. Instead, I spent time sitting under an umbrella surrounded by marvelous sculptures, the breeze blowing, enjoying a delectable pomegranate beverage, watching Bill work, and listening to Pam and Bill tell their stories. I left feeling touched by something magical.
For twenty years, Pam Stocker was a special education teacher. While she loved what she did, and loved the kids, she had begun to think that all of the administrative stuff was getting in the way and taking away her spirit.
After a particularly stressful run, one day at school Pam heard a little voice that said simply "It's time to be done." To add emphasis to that message, a bit later she was sitting at her desk, and felt that her chair was being tipped forward, as if to have her get up. She decided to listen to that little voice and knew that it would change her life forever.
She called her husband and told him that she thought she might be turning in her resignation from education. Bill promptly told her he'd support whatever decision she made.
She told me that she never was a 'doctor's-visit-a-year' kind of gal, but with the prospect of her insurance coverage ending and COBRA on the horizon, she made the rounds of her doctors and had herself checked from head to toe. And they found a lump.
Not wanting to risk the breast cancer spreading, she had a double mastectomy as a preventive measure. And began her recovery.
Her family - husband Bill and two of her sons, Brandon and Bradley - were right there in her corner, and began expressing their support and love in the way they knew best. In granite. Bill created an incredible sculpture that stands guard over their property. Sunapee Rays of Hope is a tribute to his wife, and is a message of positivity and hope to others in need of some rays of sunshine. One hundred thirteen rays in this case.
After her surgery in the fall of 2011, Pamela took this messaging in granite one step further in urging the creation of what was to be the first granite ornament, Circles of Hope. It was immediately well received and spoke to those who would come to own it.
In creating the ornament, there were piles of little circles of stone that were "leftovers" from where the spaces had been created within the ornament. A gal in a shop (another Trollbeads retailer) where the ornaments were sold told them they should create beads from the remnants; they would be a welcomed remembrance of NH.
And the first beads were made in January of this year in the fine grey granite that is synonymous with our state. One thing led to another, and the Black Pearl NH bead was born.
Pam tells of being in the shower one day, and being struck with an idea that sent her bolting out to her husband, saying "I've got it. The American Bead Collection." They researched all the sources they could find, and determined that there was no one else undertaking that kind of project in the country.
Just since January, they have found ten different locales in six different states (and Canada) that produce stone representative of each area. The Maine bead from Eastport, Maine, for instance, is where the first sunrise occurs in the country and yielded the Maine beach bead. The beads don't just represent the states, they ARE the states.
The Stockers have also found a very rare stone in New Hampshire that is absolutely stunning, and are able to offer a very limited amount to their retailers. (More about that as September approaches!) Their goal is to eventually have all 50 states represented.
I watched as Bill "stamped," with a tiny old family anvil and hammer, little symbols into the sterling cap on their larger beads. There is, of course, meaning to these as well. All have been inspired by Bill's clear devotion to his wife. He explains: one image is a perky flower "because she's no wilted daisy. She always blooms and looks beautiful." Another is of two small hearts together "because when two hearts race - they both win." The third is a sunrise: "representing the bright spot in my life."
Bill is a rare artist to be able to have such emotions evoked because of a piece of stone. But as he says, "Sometimes it IS about the stories." And here is a family that has written a winner. Inspiration. Not resignation. And a whole lot of hope.
I loved this visit and it felt like I wanted to try to share it with you.