by Robyn and the Ann Arbor Hills Tea Group
When I think of Shirley, I remember last January’s Tea Group. Shirley was hosting and had her daughter’s house ready with fine tea and china – and then slipped and fell on the ice outside. So typical of Shirley were her words, smiling, as she left for an X-ray. “Please carry on dear. Enjoy yourselves. I’m fine and everything is ready.” Gracious, loving, and kind, it didn’t faze Shirley that 25 women were about to show up at her door. And she certainly didn’t want us to make a fuss about her.
A Founding Mother of International Neighbors, Shirley was on hand to cut the cake with the others at our 60th Anniversary last spring. She welcomed generations of international guests to the Ann Arbor Hills Tea Group for over fifty years with her beautiful smile and hospitality. A guest would admire Shirley’s flowers and end up leaving with armfuls of blossoms. Everyone loved Shirley, illustrated so well in the photo below sent by Smita. Shirley and her husband Don loved to travel and visited many friends they met through International Neighbors.
One of our fondest memories of Shirley is when she and Nancy Heers would lead the May Tea Group in modern dance in Nancy’s garden filled with flowers and sculpture. Shirley taught a modern dance class until the age of 89. She was a strong environmentalist and Huron River Day, a festival that takes place every summer, was founded in her living room. She also once had a business importing fine teas from China and India and had a remarkable collection of hand crafted tea pots.
Last June we had a Tea Group garden party at Manang’s beautiful house including husbands and children. This happy event with children running around roasting marshmallows was the last time we saw Shirley. She left shortly afterwards to visit her sister in Tulsa where she suffered a sudden stroke, passing away the next day surrounded by her family. We miss her so much and thank her for making the world a better place.
Here is a poem by Shirley’s husband Don that says so much about her:
Who else can grace a garden so,
Bring so much color from the ground,
Induce the flowers to bloom and grow,
And dance the trails and streams around
The Arb and Matthei in and through,
And still be Ozymandias,* too?
There’s no one else. No one but she
So bounds with grace so constantly.
Mother’s Day 2003
All my Love,
*The title of two poems both published in 1818, one by Percy Bysshe Shelley and the other by Horace Smith. Ozymandias was the Greek name for Ramesses II, pharaoh of Egypt, on whom the poems are based. Wikipedia/Ozymandias