When I think of Shirley, I think of a beautiful successful businesswoman, wife, role model, and friend with a heart full of gold.
Before I met Shirley, she already earned my utmost respect. I heard that she was in a long distance relationship with Johnson for many years. Growing up in the United States, I do not know many successful businesswomen who were also successful in long distance relationship for that many years. Having heard such stories, I developed a great deal of respect for Shirley.
I finally met Shirley, after she married Johnson. I noticed her outer beauty and sweet smile immediately. At one of her house parties, I asked her why she does not become a movie star in Hong Kong. Her face turned pink and replied humbly, ”thanks for your compliment, but I am not pretty enough to be a movie star”.
Johnson and Shirley held many parties. They were a lot of fun. We sang, drank, danced and gambled once (for new year celebration). Sometimes we played ping-pong. And, for those of us who drank too much, we crashed at their place. When there were too much food left over, Shirley would invite us back for lunch the next day. Shirley brought light and life to the family town of Santa Rosa for us, singles.
As I get to know Shirley better, besides being attractive, she had a glowing inner beauty and a distinctive affectionate air about her. Shirley had helped me in many ways. When I traveled outside of the United States, she called and provided advices. She had been to so many places. And, she had such an open heart that she shared that information with me. I remember when I told her that I was going to go to Japan by myself, and that I was not staying at Tokyo. I can sense that she worried for me. After I told her that I could read some Chinese characters, she was a little relieved. She told me about places that she had been to, how it was like in Japan, and what to look for. I really appreciated her sincere help. This was just one example. I thank her for all the information she had provided for me on all of my trips. Her suggestions had made my trips enjoyable, and I knew where to look for information with her guidance.
I have many fond memories of Shirley. But, two memories especially touched my heart. The first one was an email she sent to me back in 2000. I barely knew Shirley back then. NLC was having lay-offs. I was scared of the unknown. I decided to send out an email to inform everyone about my information in case I received the notice. I received a response from Shirley. She advised me to always show my confidence. Even if I am not, do not show it. I do not know where the email went, but, to this date, I remember what she wrote to me. And, I thank her for reminding me of a fundamental in the working world.
Another scenario that Shirley did that touched me from within was her baby shower. I had been strayed away from the “Santa Rosa gang” for a long time. But, I have wanted to join in the fun, to see everyone again. I had so much fun with them. This year, I have told myself that I will try to make it to all the events. The first one was a camping trip that was on the same date as an important event. Then, the second one was Shirley’s baby shower that lied on the day of one of my trips. I was devastated. I felt it was destined that I could not join in any events. When Shirley found out that I was not able to make it, she changed the date and sent out an email stating that she would like all her friends to be there. I was touched. I sent her a “thank you” email, but I do not think she realizes how her action has touched me deeply.
For her passing, I felt Shirley had taught me one last lesson. I have wanted to plan a dim sum. The last one we had was a lot fun. It was supposed to be dim sum, but it turned out to be an all day event. First, it was nice to see everyone again. Second, the dim sum place selected by Johnson and Shirley was great. Third, it was nice to hop over to Rick’s sister’s place for drinks and Buffalo wings afterwards. I wanted to plan another, but was debating if I should plan it before or after Carina’s arrival. Shirley had shown me that when I think of an event, I should just plan it, instead of debating.
I am very fortunate to have met Shirley. She had inspired me in many ways. We had many good times together. Even though Shirley is physically away, she will always be with us spiritually. She will always be watching over us, like how she cares for us when she was here. I will miss her dearly. And, I will keep her fond memories in my heart. Shirley, may you rest in peace. We will all do our best to support Johnson and Carina.