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'Hearts for Madalene,' Enduring Love

'Hearts for Madalene,' Enduring Love

Page Hodel didn't have to go far to find the love of her life... Madalene Rodriguez lived right across the street.

"When I met Madalene," she explains, "I really felt that I had found the love I had looked for my whole life." Hodel wanted to find a way to express that love. "I'm a super romantic," she adds.

And what better way to do that than with a heart, in fact, lots of hearts. "I would just make a little heart for her on her door step so that when she went to work on Monday morning there would be a heart waiting for her to say 'I love you, don't forget, I love you so much.'"

Today, Hodel estimates that she has made some 223 hearts, 100 of which are featured in her recently published book, Monday Hearts for Madalene (Publisher: Stewart, Tabori & Chang).

Sadly, just seven months after they fell in love, Rodriguez was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer and died four months later at age 46.

Rodriguez' passing, however, has not stopped the hearts. "I promised her that I would make a heart for her every week for the rest of my life so that she knows that I will never ever forget her."

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Hodel, who is a disc jockey and non-profit operations manager in the San Francisco area, doesn't have an art background but describes herself as artistically expressive. The hearts are composed of common, everyday items --  seeds, buttons, berries, clothespins, corks, petals -- arranged in the shape of a heart. "They are things that cross my path during the week ... usually I know it when I see it ... something will hit me as I walk into my day. I have always been really aware and receptive to the beauty that's around me ... there is something very profound about the message that I get when I pass that week's heart ... it just sort of sings when I walk by it."

Hodel started sharing the hearts with family and friends about four months after Madalene's death to "put love out in the world saying let's not forget our loved ones, I'm not forgetting Madalene..."

Hodel creates the heart, photographs it and then sends the photo via the Internet to her mailing list of some 500 people worldwide. "I always send them out on Sunday so that they arrive on the digital doorstep on Monday morning. I send it with the invitation for the people to send it to their loved ones and people do"

It takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 40 hours to create a heart. Does she ever have artist's block? "Never," she says emphatically. Recently, some of the heart recipients have started to suggest heart designs to her. "I really like it and I even have people sending me items that they think could be nice heart materials, which is very cool."

A portion of the proceeds from the book and notecards featuring the hearts benefit the Women's Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, Calif.

See more of Madalene's hearts at The book is available in bookstores and on Amazon.

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Edie Stull