Cornwell makes teddy bears to keep – forever
Alice Tate just hugged the teddy bear and wept.
It was a gift from Tyrell Cornwell of Luling, who wanted to comfort Tate in the sudden loss of her son, Stephan. This bear was special because it was wearing a jacket made from his clothing. In her literal bear hug, Tate was also wearing an apron, also made by Cornwell, from one of her son’s work shirts.
“She cried and I cried,” Cornwell said of presenting the gifts to his family last Christmas. “We hugged. It’s just seeing so much happiness for it. Giving back is great.”
At the time, Cornwell was doing a community education class on making aprons, and Tate, the program coordinator, decided to ask her to make the apron from his work shirt. Stephan, who worked in physical plant maintenance with the St. Charles Parish School System, died from a stroke in August of last year.
When Tate went to pick up the apron at Cornwell’s house, what she also got was incredible to her.
“I’m just overwhelmed with the fact that she has not only made an apron, but she also made a bear,” she said fighting back tears. “My daughter-in-law was overwhelmed by the generosity and the love that she shared with our family. She didn’t even know me.”
Tate and her husband, Jim, both expressed their gratitude to Cornwell, as well as the community for their love and support.
For Tate, as well as Cornwell, these are genuine love gifts drawn from her desire to give.
Nearly 15 years ago, she got the idea of giving memorable gifts after seeing pillows given to families of 9-11 victims. From there, she knew what she wanted to do – she wanted to help those who lost loved ones.
When a resident died who had two children, she made them a memory pillow, too. It also was made from the man’s clothing.
With the recent death of Alfred Green, who served on the parish school board and was considered as a great teacher, Cornwell is making memory pillows for his daughters.
She’s also working on teddy bears with their special clothing for her mother-in-law’s family, who also recently died. This one is close to Cornwell, who considered the woman her best friend.
“If you do flowers, flowers go away,” Cornwell said. “I just think it gives me great pleasure to know I’ve given people something they can hold to forever. There will be lonely nights and they can hold onto something they wore. It’s the closest you can get to someone who is gone… and it’s giving back.”
People have started asking her how much she charges to make the bears, and it’s growing.
These gifts are comforting and help ease grief.
“There is so little to say to make things better, but you can do something,” she said. “It’s something I enjoy doing. I don’t do it on a large scale so when someone dies I make an offering. I donate my services to do it.”