About six months ago I was reunited with a friend, Jerri Lynn Lietchty, who I met when I first moved here to Louisiana. She had won a gift basket from “little bella”.
We made plans for lunch where I learned that she was going through the dementia odyssey with her mother. Our mothers stories were so similar. Mine had already passed from the complications of this most heartless disease, and I sensed then why, perhaps our paths had crossed once more.
About two weeks later, I was inundated with orders for a product that required sewing and after going through all my contacts, I sent out a panicked 6:00am text to Jerri Lynn, asking if she could sew a straight line.
Unbeknownst to me, she was an accomplished quilter!
We met that day, and we have been working together ever since.
About a week or so in, I told her about an idea that had been in the back of my mind ever since opening “little bella”. I wanted to develop a doll that could be warmed to help comfort babies as they slept.
We ran with it. They got cuter and cuter and they started to sell. We decided to make it a joint venture and call it “lulupegs” after both of our moms.
About two weeks before Christmas, Michelle, our aesthetician at Spa Bella, was treating a client whose husband has dementia and brings him regularly for massage. She trusted us to keep him safe while she took a well-deserved moment to relax and let go. “guarding” her husband was and continues to be an honor for us. On this occasion, the client told Michelle she was no longer going to be able to bring him, as he was becoming easily agitated and couldn’t be relaxed, whereas historically, he would get on the table and immediately go to sleep. For some unknown, intuitive reason Michelle warmed a lulupeg in the microwave and presented it to him as he sat, agitated, in a chair. She instructed him to “hold it until it’s not warm anymore” He immediately hugged it, becoming calm and relaxed. Later, when he got distracted, as most dementia patients do, he was quickly brought back to focus as the lulupeg would get his attention by moving when he moved. . He held it to himself again and was comforted all over again. He sat for an hour serene and relaxed.
When Michelle relayed this news to us, we were going crazy with the holidays and it didn’t hit us until about two days before Christmas. The moment we realized, we were standing in the back where we have a big, long work table. Somehow the subject came up again and we stood in stunned silence, looking at each other as it sunk in. There has been a tear shed once or twice.
Since then the heavens have opened wide with encouragement, help, direction, ideas, research and tremendous kindness from all who have crossed our path in this endeavor.
Opportunity seems to fall in our laps and it’s as if when concerns or stepping stones are required on our part in furthering this quest to get the word out, the answers and expertise are right there. People and opportunities just waiting to be realized and are offered without reservation. We have been told there are many uses for our lulupegs, but we are keeping our focus on dementia for now. Research has begun in Houston in regard to “sun downers”
This has been an already mind numbing, humbling adventure for me, and we have just begun. I am encouraged and buoyed daily by my sweet husband who is good at calming me and keeping a meaningful perspective. Trish and Shawn, my sister and her husband have been right there in advertising and getting the website ready for business. They have worked hard through the years to create and run the websites for Spa Bella and “little bella” as well. . absolutely would not be what they are today without their help.
And Mona Hayden . . The great motivator and believer in our babies. She is our true champion and herald. We are so looking forward to having her with us every step of the way.
And some say there is no God. . It’s all just coincidence. . .
As far as dementia is concerned, our story is a bittersweet one. . . To truly appreciate the usefulness and comfort that lulupegs can bring, there has to be a mother, father, sister, brother or friend who is suffering from what I believe is one of the cruelest diseases there is. We are just happy to be on the sweet side of things.
So, our research shows that instead of having to witness our loved ones being confused, scared or upset by a thought or idea that plays over and over in their heads, we get to watch them being comforted and soothed over and over instead. These are happy moments.