Rosalba Morale loved beautiful things - furniture, clothing, jewelry and knick knacks - and surrounded herself with them.
“My mom loved to shop,” said Antonella Morale Giles, who founded Rose & Flair Lifestyle, a curated website where women can find quality products, with her sister Belinda Morale Smith. The website is set to launch in November. “It was her favourite pastime and probably where my sister and I get it (love of shopping) from. (Mom) was always dressed impeccably and she looked gorgeous everywhere she went…We grew up knowing this was just what you do and what you should have.”
Rosalba Morale was diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s in 2006 at age 57 and passed away in January 2019.
The sisters knew something was wrong with their mom the year before she was diagnosed. Both had children in 2005 and the pair noticed their mom wasn’t interested in helping, was unreliable, forgetful and repetitive. Their mom also lost interest in participating in social settings – both on a one-on-one basis and in larger groups.
“This was also out of character for her as she was always very social, planning parties and entertaining.”
Once their mom was diagnosed, the family immediately turned to the Alzheimer Society of York Region (AS York) for support and guidance, participating in programs and services. Antonella and her family also moved in with her parents to help her dad Paolo care for her mom.
“It was a very steady and slow decline spanning over 14 years,” Antonella said. “We definitely went through every known phase of this disease.”
Rosalba lived at home until she went into palliative care three weeks before passing away. She was 69 years old.
“Our mom was always smiling and it was easy to make her laugh even when she was upset or angry,” Antonella said. “My sister and I (are sad) that our children, her grandchildren, will never know the vibrant, fun and passionate woman she truly was. Most of their memories are of her being in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.”
The sisters, who have always been close, are now living far apart. Antonella lives in York Region and Belinda in Edmonton, Alberta.
The sisters decided to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit passed down to them from their parents and create their own business.
“We decided that it was time for us to start our own business and do something we both love doing. Shop! We wanted to start a shopping and blog website where we could inspire and inform people about great quality products and services.”
Rose & Flair Lifestyle “curated website where the sophisticated woman can find chic, quality products that makes them feel good,” Antonella said. The website will also feature blogs and professional forums on issues relevant to women.
“The goal is to be a trusted website where people can come to us for products and ideas for home decorating, gift giving, fashion accessories and more. We help take the guesswork out of what to buy for themselves or others by vetting products we sell. We hope to be the go-to website where customers can trust what we say and what we sell.”
The website will offer quality products sourced from vendors throughout North America.
“Shopping has always been our favourite pastime together and we were missing it being so far apart. We thought this website would be a great way to keep our traditions going and do something we both love.”
They also hope to spread awareness about AS York and support them by donating a portion of yearly sales to the organization.
At the beginning of their mom’s journey, the sisters said they were unfamiliar with the disease and its stages.
“AS York helped us to understand a little better, however, we did not take full advantage of what they had to offer. We want to make people aware of how this disease will not only affect the (person living with it), but the families who will be caring for them.”
Money will be divided between research toward a cure and treatments to help people live well with dementia, and programs and services offered by AS York.
“Our goal is to have a successful online shopping business…and be able to give back to the community, especially AS York.”
Donate to help York Region residents impacted by dementia.