ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Fights against diseases are often signified with a ribbon, like pink for breast cancer awareness and red for HIV. The ribbon for esophageal cancer awareness is periwinkle, a purple-blue. In Ada, a woman is using the shade to spread her husband’s legacy while helping others who are grieving.
A winking owl on the sign out front beckons those passing through downtown Ada to stop and shop at Periwinkle’s Boutique.
“This was our personal one-on-one training studio,” shop owner Wendy Rodriguez said.
Her husband Jorge was a personal trainer and educator for more than 35 years.
“He had a very disciplined and healthy lifestyle and his true passion in life was to help others improve their lives,” Rodriguez said of her husband.
That commitment and passion made his diagnosis of esophageal cancer in 2015 difficult to accept, but his strength also helped him attack the aggressive disease.
“He had so much determination to fight the disease and push forward,” Rodriguez said.
He fought for four years.
The couple turned to hospice care at the end of his life and as Rodriguez figured out how to continue on with hers. Hospice of Michigan provided her counseling.
“Really, we provide that support to people while they’re grieving,” said Sue Glover, a grief support manager at Hospice of Michigan. “We know the grieving process can start before the person passes away and then it goes on for many months and even years for some folks.”
The help inspired Rodriguez to give back to Hospice of Michigan using something that her husband loved — and had a lot of.
“He loved to collect owls and it was like a treasure hunt,” she said. “And it was fun and friends and family would also give them to us.”
Jorge had thousands of owl knickknacks.
“It (the owl) symbolizes a deep connection to intuition and knowledge and wisdom, and those describe Jorge perfectly,” Rodriguez said.
She is now sharing those qualities by selling the knickknacks and giving all of the proceeds to Hospice of Michigan.
“The funding is so very important so hospice is able to provide the services they do for people,” Rodriguez said.
Jorge had about 5,000 owls, so Rodriguez is able to replenish her supply of owl knickknacks as they sell out. A display in the boutique also provides information about how Hospice of Michigan helped her family.