Bill Fortenberry of Rome, GA

Photo of Bill Fortenberry's winning bracelet representing his story.
Far too many times we navigate this life without taking time to be thankful for the blessings we have. The biggest blessing in my life is my wife, Lisa. She wouldn't write her own story--she's far too humble for that, so I'm doing it for her (without her knowledge). Hers is a story of love, fulfillment and new beginnings. Lisa's younger years were not the best, but she is not one to dwell on the past. Rather, she forged ahead on her own and has emerged a successful and loving woman, thanks, in part, to a loving mother who sacrificed for her family. Lisa's mom died five years ago, leaving behind a trunk filled with quilts she made by hand. The Rembrandt quilt charm (charm #2340) would represent Lisa's strong mom and her legacy. Lisa is an artist who used her abilities to support herself, and later, contribute to our family's income. The artist palette (charm #0800) would symbolize her special creativity. Lisa and I met in 1985 as friends. While it took a few years to develop into romance, she and I now acknowledge that we were soul mates from the beginning. Your heart locket (charm #8606) would represent our relationship and marriage. We will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary on October 23. We were and remain committed and happy, and that happiness has been magnified 1,000-fold by our two children: Ethan and Autumn. To represent them, your boy (charm #2497) and girl (charm #2498) head charms would be most appropriate. If there's one holiday that our family celebrates with reckless abandon, it's Halloween. Every year we decorate top to bottom, and Lisa spends all of October sewing and creating new costumes for our kids. Your Jack O'Lantern charm (charm #3485) would be the perfect commemoration of so many years' memories. Filling out our family are our two Labrador retrievers, who have been constant companions. We received Chip, our aging Chocolate Lab, before we had our first child. Our children have rested their heads on Chip. When my mom's health declined and she had to move in with us, it was Chip who came indoors to be her helper. And, he continues to show us unfailing love. Your Labrador retriever charm (charm #2404) would represent Chip and our yellow lab, Copper. Neville is our white long-hair cat, both sweet and aloof, but an important part of the family nonetheless. Your cat charm (charm #0977) would represent him well! The ninth charm on this story bracelet would be a diploma (charm #0185). Lisa is very discerning and knew intuitively that her employer of nearly 20 years would be closing. In typical fashion, Lisa began a plan to make the most of the situation. She went back to school and will receive her medical coding and medical insurance specialist diploma in October, ready for a brand new career (perhaps a future charm!). The 10th charm would be the Rembrandt hourglass (charm #3647), representing the passage of precious time. It's hard to believe how our lives have changed, our children have matured and our love has grown over the years. The hourglass charm reminds us to make the most of the present, to cherish the past and plan for the future.

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