Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

I hope my No. 1 Fan can read this from the great beyond — and smile

DebraDeAngeloW

By
From page A9 | September 29, 2013 | 1 Comment

I’m going to tell you about my friend, Shirley Marks, one of our local characters.

She passed away unexpectedly one random morning last week. Sure, she was in her 80s, and was looking a bit worn and thin lately, but don’t be fooled — she was still a firecracker. Truly, I didn’t see this coming. She called me just a couple of days before she died, and I still can’t quite grasp it.

Last Thursday morning, Shirley got up like every day, decided to bake brownies and called a friend to come over and share them. He lived a few blocks away and started walking. By the time he arrived, Shirley was gone. Just sat down in a chair and … passed. He called 911, and when the emergency crew arrived minutes later, the brownies were still baking. One of the firefighters turned the oven off. And that was that. Apparently her heart just … stopped.

How do I summarize my strange and special relationship with Shirley. For starters, it’s her fault that I’m working at the Express. She started reading my column about a million years ago when I was writing for the Valley Tribune, and when the editor’s position opened up at the Express, she called publisher Charley Wallace right up on the phone and demanded that he hire me. Although Charley’s fond of saying that he hired me because I was breathing, I’m sure Shirley had something to do with it, because you just didn’t say “no” to Shirley.

Shirley was one of the few people who could call me in the thick of press day, and our office manager would know to put the call through. My standard for taking a call on press day is “Unless they’re bleeding, take a message.” Except Shirley. She called on press day just the week before last, and asked me to type up a letter to the editor on the spot while she dictated it over the phone. I sighed, said “Sure,” and started typing.

Consider that I’m known for neither patience nor charity on press day. There’s only a small handful of people who can get away with interrupting me on a Tuesday and leave with all their fingers. Shirley was one.

Shirley’s phone calls and phone messages always began with her signature gruff and gravelly, “Debra.” As if to say, “Pay attention.” Sometimes what followed would be a command to attend a certain function, but usually it was glowing praise: “I loved your column this week! I cut it out and sent it to my congressman!” (She still cut things out and mailed them — how cute is that?) She’d always remind me, “I’m your No. 1 Fan!” and would then say “Bye!” in such a way that you could hear her smile.

She literally was my No. 1 Fan, going back more than 20 years to my Valley Tribune days, and so I thought it only befitting that upon her passing, I dedicate this column to her. Shirley wasn’t merely some wacky old lady. She inspired me. She taught me a thing or two, and I want to share them with you:

* Wear what makes you happy. Fashion? Pssshh. Sparkles, zebra stripes, wacky hat — wear them. Funky embroidered peasant dress? Wear it. Red and turquoise jogging suit? Wear it. Crazy Christmas sweatshirt covered in glitter and sequins? Wear that too. People think you’re nuts? That brings us to the next lesson:

* Who cares what people think about you. All that matters is what you think about you. Be yourself, and those who like you the way you are will stick around. Those who don’t will fall away. You’ll end up surrounded by people who lift you up rather than tear you down.

* You won’t get what you want if you don’t ask for it. And sometimes demand it. Shirley called me up one cold winter morning in 2003 when our country was poised to go to war in Iraq, and informed me that we were going to a peace march in Sacramento, and told me what time to pick her up. She also informed me that we’d be stopping for ice cream on the way home. Marching across the Tower Bridge to the State Capitol with her is one of my favorite memories.

* Go out to lunch with friends. A lot. Good food, good friends, good times — in the end, what else is there, really?

And, last but not least:

* You’re never too old to drive a red convertible. And make it a Jaguar.

Sadly, my No. 1 Fan didn’t get to read this column devoted just to her, but she knew how fond I was of her. I nominated her for Winters Senior Citizen of the Year in 2010, and when she won, I not only wrote the story about her for the Express, but also delivered her award speech. She was just glowing that night. Overjoyed and sparkling. Her big, wide smile was never bigger or wider.

When I interviewed her for the story, she told me the key to staying healthy and active was to keep moving.

“If you sit down in a chair, you’ll just stay there,” she said.

How bittersweet and ironic that she passed while sitting in a chair.

On many occasions, I’ve thought, “When I get old, I want to be like Shirley — wacky, carefree, living to please no one but myself, and having a good time regardless of what anyone thinks.” But now, I’m thinking, “When I die, I want to go like Shirley — the smell of baking brownies wafting around me, and the joy and anticipation of visiting with a friend … no pain or fear, no trepidation … just sit down, take a breath and then … soar, soar away … leaving behind a trail of smiles, sparkles and sequins.”

I will miss you, Shirley. But dang, I’m glad I knew you.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Debra DeAngelo

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Meaghan LikesSeptember 29, 2013 - 4:37 pm

    Rest in Peace sweet Shirley, I'll think of your "trail of smiles, sparkles and sequins often". Thank you Debra for a such a lovely and fitting memoir.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 3 Comments

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

.

Arts

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6