The Neverending Love Story
Even the most cynical among us still hopes that eventually we will find our one true love—our Princess Charming. And although the skeptic in us tells us this type of Hollywood-movie love doesn’t exist, we still wait and hope that the perfect girl will walk into our lives.
Page Hodel is proof positive that this type of love is real. At age 48 she met and fell in love with Madalene Rodriguez.
“I was so, so in love and you know that feeling where you’re not even attached to the ground in love, you know, just completely crazy, cuckoo in love,” Hodel said. “I mean, you know that feeling where you want to pull up to that person at the red light next to you and roll your window down and say ‘oh my god, I am so in love with this person.’ You can’t contain it, it’s so big that it can’t stay in your body, it has to come out.”
As a way to express her love, Hodel began making hearts out things she found around the house and at shops in her neighborhood—anything from flowers, leaves and rocks to bungee cords, cocktail umbrellas and marshmallow peeps. Every Sunday Hodel would make a new heart and leave it on Madalene’s doorstep for her to find the next morning. Unfortunately their whirlwind romance ended abruptly, after being together for less than a year, Madalene died of ovarian cancer.
Now close to four years later Hodel continues to make her “Monday Hearts” every week. “I left one for her the first time and she liked it so much that I did it again the next week and then I finally went, wait, I’m not ever going to stop, I’m always going to do this,” Hodel said.
After the love of her life passed away, Hodel began e-mailing photographs of her hearts to people all over the world and because the response was so great she has also published a book, Monday Hearts for Madalene as well as a note card set. A portion of the royalties will be donated to the Women’s Cancer Research Center.
Hodel shared with us seven of the stunning hearts that appear in her book, revealing how they were made the the significance of each to her.
“It’s been the life preserver that’s kept me above the water really,” Hodel said of making a heart every single week. “I think there was such a dark, dark, dark period that the only thing I really could do, and I knew I couldn’t do much of anything, but the only thing I knew I could always do was express how much I loved her and that is something that I have never for one moment not been able to do and you know it remains to this day.”
This heart was created using old Romanian stamps a family member had collected. “You can see that there is a naked girl right in the middle; of course I had to put her in,” Hodel laughs.
Hodel was walking through a 99 cent store when she spotted a bin full of miniature bungee cords. The colors were so vivid that she picked them up.
“I’ll walk by the same exact thing 50 times and then I’ll walk by it the 51st time and it’s literally like, Oh my god that’s what I’m going to make my heart out of,” she said. “It’s weird, it’s almost like a—I don’t know, it sounds so airy fairy, but it really is almost like a voice. It’s almost like a compulsion or a divine instruction, like, Take me, use me, I’m the one, and in my mind I kind of think maybe Madalene’s telling me, she’s showing me, I kind of think that might be her voice.”
The process of making a heart takes hours (this particular heart took Hodel 20 hours to make), giving her time every week to focus on Madalene.
“When I am making my heart it is my time with Madalene…it’s a time that is sacred for her, so I make them with her in my heart and her in my mind and the benefit is that it just spreads, it’s just so precious, I’m so blessed,” Hodel said.
“Fish on Fire”
Hodel said that she always considered her “Monday Hearts” a gift she was giving to Madalene, and through her book, the world. But the responses she has gotten from people all over the country has helped her get through the profound sadness from loosing Madalene.
“It’s coming out of me and going out into the world and what I’m finding is that I’m getting this avalanche of love back and I never even thought of it and it’s really, really something else,” Hodel said. “I think in retrospect intuitively I must have know I needed that because it really helps me walk through this period.”
“To me it just expresses the softness and the hard, the juxtaposition of something very hard and sharp and then something marvelously, beautifully, soft and delicate,” Hodel said of her favorite heart. “I love the dance of those things; I like the conversation between those two things together.”
“I just have such a love affair with flowers and I’ve always loved flowers, I mean I just think they are one of the most magnificent offerings of the heavens,” Hodel said.
Hodel said she visits local flower shops weekly and is inspired by what is in bloom at the time.
“Flowers only bloom for three or four days really at their peak, so you really have to dance with nature and dance and find the moment,” she said.
“You know when you first fall in love you are so out of control in love that all you can do is stare at each other‘s toes and giggle,” Hodel said. “You’re not meeting each other’s friends yet.”
Friends and family members of both Hodel and Madalene came together on the one year anniversary of Madalene’s death to create this photograph. “It was really a neat opportunity for us all to be in the same place and it was a very magical, very magical day,” Hodel said.