Sixty-three-year love story inspires tower of stones
Ivan set up his backyard sandblasting workshop by himself after his unsuccessful attempts to enlist help from others. "They may have thought I'd be competition one day," he jokes. "But I'm not!"
The 80-something says money was never the motivation behind his work. "When you have a hard stone and the sand blasts on it, it's like a mouse eating cheese!"
Long before Ivan taught himself how to sandblast pictures in stones, he was a teenager impressed by his older friends. "They tended to want to brag to me a lot about their prowess with the girls!"
When they started to get jobs at sea, Ivan quit school at 15 to do the same. "It was all me, me, me, me!" he says.
Ivan returned to shore at 22 and attempted to finish high school. That's when he ran into three young women. "I only saw one," he recalls with a laugh. "And she made out that she only saw me!"
'She' was Mollie, a young teacher. "And I thought, 'Wow'!" Mollie remembers.
She says they dated for a year before exchanging vows. Now they are celebrating 63 years of marriage near a 'tower of stones' that Ivan sandblasted in his workshop and erected in his front yard.
"I want to celebrate what I see out the window," he explains, pointing to the pictures on the collection of rocks showing children playing, athletes striving, and families growing.
"[It’s people] enjoying the beauty and the wonder and the loveliness."
Ivan put a mirror on the top of the tower, to reflect the people looking at it. "You being here is what makes it so lovely."
You may wonder how the former self-centred young man at sea became the current selfless creator of stones.
Ivan reveals the answer when he leans over to Mollie, who's in the chair next to him. "I must learn to become what you are by nature," he says lovingly. "She is naturally whole-hearted to people."
It seems Ivan's tower of stones – the celebration of strangers he sees in front of him – is ultimately inspired by the bestfriend sitting next to him.