Relaxing into the airplane seat, Adrienne Mazzone thought to herself, my life has really changed. She was returning from a business trip with her father in Vienna where they stood in front of OPEC covering the story as Freedom Watch Founder Larry Klayman waved his proverbial "smoking gun" in the form of a gas pump nozzle as he protested the financial crisis he says OPEC has caused in America. Several years ago, she had no idea she would be traveling around the world with her father. Then, suddenly, her husband, John, died of rare duodenal cancer and she was faced with the decision of what to do next.
Adrienne sold the house they designed and built in upstate New York and moved her two children down to Florida where her parents lived and worked. Joining her parents in business, she enjoyed the travel and media-related opportunities. It meet that core need to be social, to network and to reach out to others.
“People became my medicine,” shared Adrienne. And yet, there were still those who would ask her about John, about duodenal cancer, and about the mini stained-glass window embedded in his headstone in the small cemetery in Cornwall, NY.
Adrienne's husband, John, worked most of his life as a union glazier, then an organizer for the union. In his spare time, he loved creating stained glass pieces and taught Adrienne the art of cutting the glass, following the pattern, foiling the pieces, and soldering them together.
At 42, just after Christmas in 2002, John came home with an annoying pain in his stomach. He took an antacid, thinking it would go away. It didn't and he decided to see the doctor. A biopsy revealed Stage IV cancer in his duodenum, too late to remove through surgery or remedy through radiation or chemotherapy, though he did undergo some treatment in an attempt to eradicate it. Always healthy, his family felt unprepared for this turn of events.
As with any illness, those diagnosed often search the internet for answers. When John saw the lack of resources for this rare cancer, he and Adrienne decided to start their own place for people to go. DoudenalCancer.com was started to educate and inspire anyone suffering from the illness. The site carried John's message “You are not alone” and gave informational links to patients and their families searching for answers.
The site became a gathering place for those needing to connect, reach out to others in pain and understand more about the process. As he researched answers, John met survivors of duodenal cancer. His own spread through the liver and lymphotic system, then to his stomach and colon, preventing the treatment from working faster than the cancer.
When he passed away only a year after the diagnosis, Adrienne knew she would keep the website going and continue his message of outreach and togetherness. She also knew that a man so committed to the art of creating beautiful glasswork must have a piece of stained glass made into the tombstone. Sitting in Giacomos Memorials, Adrienne said, "the stone has to be made in the USA because John was very proud to be American and it has to have glass, as he loved his glass."
“A ray of light shone through the glass creating a shadow of the cross on ground. The effect caused others in the graveyard to stare and wonder at its beauty.”
Adrienne and her children, Sirena and Jake, fashioned a cross with John's tools and his friends promised her they could encase and professionally seal it into the carved-out square, cut into the marble with the perfect dimensions. Etched in the back were the words written by the children, “He Will Be Watching Over Us Thru The Windows of Heaven" and “Made in the USA.”
One night, on Father's Day, Adrienne took her children to John's gravesite, after an emotional birthday celebration for Sirena, one of the many future milestones in which he would be remembered with love and affection. The sun was setting. A ray of light shone through the glass creating a shadow of the cross on ground. The effect caused others in the graveyard to stare and wonder at its beauty. Inspired, Adrienne knew in her heart that she could create these windows of love and hope to help others memorialize their loved ones. John gave her a gift when he taught her this craft that she could not ignore.
Over the coming months, the little window created a buzz in the small cemetery. The owner of Giacomos was so impressed he wanted to offer the option to his other clients. Asking her children what they thought, she went forward with a patent for her unique product. From there, Stained Glass Memorials was born. Two glaziers were hired and the company was able to offer several designs along with custom ones. Later the company expanded to include options such as a solar-powered light that lite the window at night.
Though enjoying entrepreneurial success in New York and surrounding states, Adrienne realized that she needed help in the overwhelming small things of life. Jake would help shovel the snow and do various tasks but without John, Adrienne began fixing up the house for sale.
She shares, “When you don't have the team support, you burn out fast.” Her parents encouraged them to move to Florida where they could all be together.
Once in Florida, Adrienne experienced the slower pace shock after living in New York for so many years. In the big apple, she and the children enjoyed opportunities to act and be involved with many exciting opportunities. In Florida, she enjoyed the company of her supportive parents and their fascinating lives as publicity professionals.
Life had indeed changed. It wasn't better or worse, just different and it worked. Though miles away from her previous life, Adrienne knew that she had found a way to remember John through the website and stained glass windows but also enjoy the present with her kids and parents surrounding her, designing and building a new life in publicity that would take her around the world.
BIO: Adrienne Mazzone is currently working at TransMedia Group as the VP of Arts and Entertainment in Boca Raton, Florida.
To learn more about Stained Glass Memorials, see http://www.stainedglassmemorials.com or to learn more about the cancer that took John's life, see www.DuodenalCancer.com.
Thank you Adrienne, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2009 by Sarah Peppel and Story of My Life®