After 160 hours of labour, Wayne Smith has reached his goal of touching people's hearts.
The Salmon River resident wanted a unique way to remember people who have died of cancer. His journey began when a friend asked him to participate in this past summer's Relay for Life in honour of her friend who had passed away. After the event, he began thinking of a more permanent way to remember those lost to the disease, which also claimed his father's life.
The end result was the Tree of Life, a steel monument weighting five tons and measuring 30 feet by 18 feet. The sculpture is three trees, each with 12 rings representing each month of the year and the 12 days of Christmas. Each tree has a butterfly on top symbolic of the cancer society and a ring on top, which is reflective of an angel's halo.
"I've had grown men get choked up when they see," said Smith. "It's to remember loved ones and treasure the living. You don't realize what you have until it's gone: This is (thanks) to a special lady that opened my eyes to my inner self...it's a personal satisfaction to make people appreciate what they ahve now with the living."
Although he has not found a permanent home for the sculpture - it is resting in his welding shop - he envisions it becoming a vital part of the community.
"I'd like to see it become a meeting place for people who have lost loved ones. Maybe they could put a tag with their loved one's name on it in memory of them," he suggested.
The sculpture also boasts of a poem, created by Smith. It's called the Tree of Life 2008 and states: Like the tree of life the memories still keep on growing. As we all grow older we have to share the time with others because we all need each other to grow together and be stronger.