Au Revoir, Shirley Derrico
June 28, 2007 | Remembering
Ten years ago a refined lady walked into my travel agency looking for a job. That was the day two old ladies found the element that had been missing from their lives.
Shirley was a supporter and the original Rah Rah Girl. She invariably saw the good and the promise of the future for others. What she never realized was that she too deserved to have a good life.
She was a better friend to people than they were to her. In my specific case, if it were not for Shirley pushing, in her gentle manner, and taking matters into her own hands, I would have never fulfilled my secret dream of writing. She was the first person to read my work. Smiling and nodding, she whipped out her red pen saying, “Lovely, I like it, BUT… You can imagine how the story changed and improved.
As for taking matters into her own hands, she introduced me to a group of writers who shoved me toward publishers until I finally had a contract.
Shirley never gave up on me and continued to edit and offer suggestions. As time passed she introduced me to a police sergeant who took his time to fill in the blanks along with a wonderful hair stylist who has kept me a natural blonde for years. She accomplished all this in between her handling clients and everything else it took to run our business and her personal life.
After the agency moved to my house, Shirley decided that we should hold “Executive Luncheons” at Red Lobster. The Manhattan Mama and I spent many a long hour indulging our thirst while we hashed over the business, our lives and everything in between.
We particularly enjoyed sharing the news of our children, actually that would be bragging, and commiserating about those same kids when necessary. Thankfully that wasn’t too often. The grandkids, and great-grandson in Shirley’s case, were the best conversations. We took great pride in their exceptional talents and intelligence.
What did I give Shirley in return for 10 years of friendship and loyalty? Not much by comparison and certainly not in the salary category. But as she told me, it wasn’t the big paycheck that drew her back day after day.
The only thing I could give in return was time. Now that I had plenty of. Time to listen to her joke, laugh, and talk about what she wanted in the future. Don’t be so surprised. Even old ladies have dreams. Through weight loss programs, illnesses, and bad hair days, we shared it all. I was the impartial person she could vent to and confide in. Oh yes, of course there was advice, because anyone who knows me also knows I’m loaded with that and have no problem sharing it.
Don’t think ours was a euphoric relationship. We got ticked with each other plenty of times. It never took long before we were back to our old selves and again sharing.
We all have faults. No one is perfect. Shirley recognized that in herself and wanted to change. When she would lambaste herself I wouldn’t allow it. I mean, look who she was talking to. There wasn’t any reason for her to change. The Shirley I knew and loved was a good woman who extended herself whenever she could. Above all else, Shirley was a lady with style.
So to my friend I say, peace on your long journey and may you finally find the joy you so well deserve.