My Tribute to Shirley M
By Richard Mabey Jr.
My friend, Shirley M, most very recently went Home to be with the Lord. Sadness fills my heart. I know, deep in the fibers of my heart that Shirley is with the good Lord in Heaven. Still, sadness fills my heart.
Shirley was a childhood friend of mine, a good neighbor to myself and many other folks in the old neighborhood. What I remember most of Shirley is the fun and fellowship that we had during the era of the fantastic summertime Monopoly marathons.
My good friend and neighbor, George Y, and I adopted Shirley as our younger sister. For the most part, the Monopoly marathons were played in Shirley’s backyard. We used to play Monopoly on the wooden planked picnic table. Shirley’s family home sat at the foothills of the famous Hook Mountain, along the ribbon of road of Route 202.
A lot of us may remember Hook Mountain from our grammar school studies of the Revolutionary War. For Hook Mountain was the mountain range, in New Jersey, that George Washington used as a lookout system. To the east, atop Hook Mountain the Continental Soldiers kept an eye toward New York City. To the west, they kept a steadfast eye toward the Delaware River.
I remember that for the most part I would sit at that humble backyard picnic table and face toward the south, while we all played Monopoly. From that perspective, I could see the steep incline of the footing of Hook Mountain. There was such a sense of peace, of innocence, of simple fun, of finding joy and splendor in playing a simple board game. Beneath the elm, the oak, the pine and the maple we would roll dice, count the spaces, and follow the directions of the Community Chest cards.
I remember that Shirley was an incredibly intelligent girl, with an abounding zest for a love of life. Time and time again, in the early minutes of our game, Shirley would be the first to land on both Boardwalk and Park Place! As you probably know, they are the two most valuable properties on the Monopoly game board.
It was uncanny, so very uncanny! Shirley would need to roll a three to land on Park Place. She would grab the dice from the board, shout out, “come on three,” and then with great drama, roll the dice. And, alas, Shirley would roll a three! It was all so uncanny. Time and time again, Shirley would acquire both Park Place and Boardwalk!
In the midst of our Monopoly marathons, during the dog-day summer afternoons, Mrs. M would bring out a pitcher of lemonade and a stack of paper cups. It would be the perfect remedy for the sweltering heat. In memory, I can return to those days of innocence, with much heart-felt appreciation.
I’ve never seen a bush turn instantly to flame. I’ve never seen a sea part in two. Still, I know that I have been graced with the touch of miracles in my life. Such a miracle came just a few months ago. My childhood friend, Shirley, asked me to be her Facebook friend. I joyously accepted.
One of the Facebook messages that I wrote to Shirley, revolved around the golden era of the Monopoly marathons. I wrote her how uncanny it was, how she would always roll the dice to the exact amount that was needed for her to land on Park Place or Boardwalk before anyone else had. She wrote me back that it made her laugh. She told me that she hadn’t thought about that magical era, in quite some time.
Life is funny. I went to college and more or less lost touch with Shirley. Then, it wasn’t that much longer afterward that Shirley moved away. I guess it’s just the way that life goes. I know this for sure, Shirley enriched my childhood. She showed me the power of faith, of positive thinking. I can still hear the echo of her childhood voice shouting, “come on three,” as she rolled the dice.
As I write this tribute to Shirley, sadness resides in my heart. I pray for the good Lord to touch the hearts of Shirley’s two brothers. To help them heal from their grief. I pray for all of Shirley’s family and dear friends. I pray that the good Lord will comfort them in their time of grief.
With brotherly love,