Tuesday, October 05, 2010

remembering Shirley

Last August, our friend, Shirley Willey lost his battle with cancer. His dear wife, Alberta, sons - Scott and Thom, grandchildren and many, many friends will certainly miss his quiet and sweet spirit. In celebration of his life, his family hosted a reception on Saturday, and Ed and I traveled to Southwest Harbor to be a part of it.

We met Alberta and Shirley nearly thirty years ago, when another friend Sam invited us there for a firemen's muster. Sam had joined the coast guard, and when he was stationed in Southwest, he encouraged the fire company to run their very first firemen's muster. He then asked our fire company if we would travel up and support them, which we did... and continued to do for a number of years afterwards, with both fire companines traveling back and forth to each other's musters. Because of this, we have a number of very dear friends in Southwest, and though we don't see them nearly enough, it is like old times any time we do have the chance to be together.

Shirley was a stone mason, a very talented stone mason, and he worked with his brother Berton. All over Mount Desert Island, you can find projects that the Willey brothers have done together, everything from great stone fireplaces and chimneys, to walls, patios.. driveways... just about anything that can be done from stone. And many of their projects were done for the Rockefeller families, who own quite a number of estates on the island. But it made no matter to Shirley "who" he worked for... the biggest multi dollar projects or the smallest ones.. his love and talent shows in each one.

Shirley was one of the kindest, gentle people that I have ever had the privilege to know. He always had a smile and took great pleasure in the simplest things in life. He even had a pet name for me ... "Trolley"... because when they came to visit, he always enjoyed going to Ogunquit with us and riding the trolleys that took you around town. He dearly loved his family and was so proud of his sons, and their families. To say that we will miss Shirley is an understatement... Southwest Harbor will always be one of my most favorite places on earth... but now.. it will never be quite the same.

"God speed our friend... the stones you'll use in heaven will be made of gold"

trip to southwest

Saturday morning, bright and early, Ed, Camille and I packed up and headed to Southwest Harbor for a bittersweet reunion. I love Southwest Harbor, and it has been one of my most favorite places in the world. Not just because it is absolutely beautiful, but we have many dear friends there. And as you read in the previous blog, one of those friends being Shirley and his family. But this trip was not a "vacation" so to speak, but a time to say farewell to our dear friend.

The reception was held at the fire station. Which was an excellent idea because with all the friends that Shirley had, it would be hard to find a space that would hold them all. The trucks were parked outside and the bays had plenty of room for everyone.

Alberta was there to greet everyone. I was so happy to spend some time with her, and she is doing fairly well since Shirley's passing. At one time she had a sewing shop and could do any project that required sewing or tailoring. So, she in herself is well known around the island.

Shirley's two favorite trucks were parked in the firetruck bay. The old truck had belonged to his father, and Shirley and his boys restored it. Alberta told us that Shirley's Dad had sold the truck because he wasn't so sure that it was reliable as it got up there in age. But this wonderful old truck has never let them down, starts on a dime and runs perfectly.. it was a bit of a joke at how reliable it remained.

All afternoon, the crowd of people remained steady. What a great tribute to any one's life when you see so many people that want to come and say their goodbyes.

Nice picture of Ed and our friend Sam... who was the one that "brought" us to Southwest Harbor so many years ago.

After the reception (and before we went to dinner).. we had a few hours. So, Ed and I (along with MaryEllen) took a quick trip to Acadia National Park and to the horse stable. This is where our Duke horse lived and work for six years. I had never seen the stables (in all the years that we have been going to the island) so it was fun for me to go there.

It's very pretty spot and we got to talk with the folks that now do the carriage rides. No one knew our Duke (there's a whole new staff there).. but they were all very nice and were quite interested to know that we have one of their former horses.

There are stables that people can reserve and then go trail riding around the park. The carriage and trail roads were done by the Rockerfeller family. And since it was also the Rockerfeller family that took on the project of Colonial Williamsburg, Ed and I were pleased to see how many things look so familiar to us with regards to both places. The staff told us that for the horses, many of the Rockerfeller private estates will allow riding on their properties. You have to make reservations quite a bit in advance.. and you can be sure to know that Ed and I have this idea on our 'to do" list. We would like to bring Duke back and see what he remembers of his days there.

The carriages were quite busy. With the beautiful fall colors, and the warm afternoon, plenty of folks were up for taking a ride. I would have liked to do the same, but we were short of time on this trip.

Then it was back to Southwest, twenty five of us (which also included my Mom and Dad) met up again for a nice dinner and a chat. It was such a fun time, and much of our dinner conversation was spent in telling old stories of the firemen's musters and time spent together doing other things. I am sure that Shirley would have been so pleased to see us all together and recalling wonderful and fun memories.

on sunday

Sunday morning, Alberta had reserved a restaurant (the same one that we had gone to dinner the night before) to have brunch for the friends and family that had traveled to Shirley reception. It was a smaller group than had been the night before, and that one last time to share those special memories and moments.

Among the many things that Shirley enjoyed... NASCAR was one, so I thought this centerpiece was very fitting.

We toasted his life, his memory and hopes of the future with sparkling cider.....

And all too soon, as it always is when we visit the island, the time had gone and we needed to be heading for home. Shirley would never allow anyone to say "goodbye" when they left... it was always.. "see ya".. but on this time... goodbye was the fitting response. I just had to take some shots of this beautiful spot.....

and we slowly made our way for home.

The "famous" Bucksport bridge. That is the new bridge (to the left of the photo) and the little old bridge (to the right). I used to dread crossing that old bridge.. I always told our Southwest folks that I must really, really like them if I was brave enough to cross that bridge to see them. I must say, the new bridge is so much better!!!!

And coming down the coast... you just have to stop at Moody's and have some lunch (and pie)... which we did!!!
It was so very nice to get away even just for one night. Sadie managed the farm, and it was a nice change of scenery... we haven't gone any where since we began the house... so, this was really very special. I said to Ed that it was because of Shirley that we "got away"..
and so, once again our dear Friend.. thank for you a wonderful time and you will always remain very close in my heart and memories...