St. Lucia, the Pink full moon and my dad

Apr 23, 2024

Today is a sad day, but also one that I am choosing to turn into something else. My dad passed away a year ago tonight, and just hours after that anniversary hits, a pink full moon will rise.

A pink full moon symbolizes different things to different people, but my takeaway was the ability to be able to release anything not serving you, to find inner peace, and to pursue joy. That is beautiful.

I have been mourning, sometimes out loud, more often than not though, silently, for, well, the past year.

Grief is this really invasive thing – the amount of times I replay a conversation, or an event, and just pick it apart is not serving me. I am releasing that.

The guilt I feel for the silliest of things, when I know I did MORE than what was expected of me or should be expected by any human is just stupid. I am releasing that.

Ultimately I want to be able to celebrate my dad and his life. Our relationship brought me such joy and even though I can’t call him when I would like to and hear his advice, I still HEAR his advice. I know exactly what he would say to me and that is always going to have sadness with it, but I am choosing to allow it to bring me joy.

I questioned if I should write this all out, especially in such a public domain. I am not the most eloquent conversationalist but writing is a very cathartic physical activity for me and I ultimately believe it is important to share. I have listened to Anderson Cooper’s podcast about grief recently and it was quite eye opening in this respect. As humans we all have shared experiences in life – no matter what path in this incredible life we are on – and grief is a shared experience. We often don’t want to upset people so we don’t ask or we tiptoe around the subject, but that is not serving us to be able to grow and heal.

So on that note I want a permanent place in my online diary of sorts for a few stories about my dad to have a home.

Jeremy and I went to St Lucia for our 25th anniversary in July. It’s a volcanic island so it’s incredibly lush. We stayed right between the two pitons and there were butterflies EVERYWHERE. I’ve never seen so many actually. Just fluttering all over the beach.  I wasn’t sure how to feel when I saw butterflies at first – after dad died they actually put a picture of 2 butterflies on his hospital door.  As time has passed I welcome seeing those marvelous beauties and it makes me smile to think of him.

Our last night we were early for dinner so we went to the bar. We were the only 2 people there and there was a restaurant right next to us with a live band playing R&B music. 

On the menu was a passion fruit sidecar. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a sidecar on a menu before and certainly not passion fruit.  Dad LOVED passion fruit and we found out on Justin’s 21st birthday when dad was in the hospital after his heart attack that he loved sidecars. 

Jeremy had asked dad what Justin should order for his birthday and he said a sidecar – “and if the bartender doesn’t know what it is then you leave” ha!

So Jeremy said I had to get that for my dad. I ordered it. Jeremy then asked the bartender what his favorite drink to make is. He said “the last word”

Ok. This won’t mean anything to y’all but to us it was big. Jeremy and my dad played Destiny together and my dad’s favorite weapon of all to use was a revolver called the last word. 

We both were just in shock. But it didn’t end there…

Not even seconds later the live band started playing the Natalie Cole, Nat King Cole version of Unforgettable. Both of us immediately had tears streaming.

Not only was that song played at my Nani’s funeral (my dad’s mom) but when the 7 of us left Lubbock the Sunday morning after dad’s funeral we stopped by his parents graveside and played just one song – that exact song. 

If just one of those things had happened I would think it was coincidental – but all of them together – THAT is something else. 

Jeremy and I had this shared experience together that was, well, SUCH a gift. It was worthy of any beautiful movie, but as a viewer we would have just thought the writer was REALLY weaving something! But it wasn’t fabricated, it was so very real. Bravo, dad!

Speaking of cinema, this is one of my favorite openings to one of his screenplays and it’s so beautiful…


I believe in God. 

The Big Bang. As good an explanation of how this all happened as any.

Something had to cause it. Some creative genius.

What was there before the Big Bang? A giant rock with all matter in it? Where was this rock? Outer space?

What is outer space? Was it there to begin with?

You know where the answer is? Right between your thumb and your finger.

Between these two fingers is infinity.

Mathematicians don’t want to talk about infinity existing inside a finite space. Do you know, you could go half the distance from my thumb
to my finger over and over again and never reach my finger.

There is the answer. That’s where God is.

After much consideration I want to have his eulogy that I wrote and delivered to have a home – to breathe here, in this space. It was one of those moments for me that I didn’t know if I COULD do it, but I knew I HAD to do it. My dad was a brilliant writer and he left me pure gems to indulge in that I never knew existed. It was just another gift he left behind and I am forever grateful.

Good morning family and friends. Today, we gather here to celebrate and pay tribute to the life of my dad, Michael Wayne Shires, a remarkable individual who touched the lives of many.

As we come together to remember and honor Michael, let us reflect on the memories, the love, and the lessons that he leaves behind.

THAT is how most of these would start – but somehow it doesn’t seem fitting for my dad. So indulge me for a moment as I would like to set the scene, as we all know my dad would have done.

The perfect intro is to start with his own words. The following is the opening scene from one of his screenplays that he wrote, “One in a Million”

Storybook titles come across the screen, the final page is a still shot of the heavens filled with twinkling stars.

Captioned below this picture:

“Once when there were more stars in Heaven than at MGM.”

Thousands of stars twinkling, suspended against the rich black background of space. The brightness of each star modulates when it speaks.

Number One. Number one…number one! yes. what is it sixteen?
tell it to us again.
i don’t think so

why not? there are those of us who like to hear it.

you are always wanting to hear it. i’m tired of telling it.

ah, come on . tell it to us again

what are we talking about?

number sixteen wants number one to tell us the story of Michael again.

Hey, that’s a good one.

The stars enliven, echoing chaotically their desire to hear the story again.

All right, all right But this could be the last time — at least in this millennium.

As Number one begins, Camera moves down slowly. Down, down, down, seeking the planet earth. Camera is plunging through the earth’s atmosphere. Number ones voice fades as we run smack into:

a panoramic view of Lubbock texas

The city is bathed in lush west texas clouds. A not so gentle breeze kisses the whispering tumbleweeds.

It was Saturday, November 26th, 1949 to be exact. 79 and sunny, The rest of the world was still recovering from Thanksgiving while Neysa and Noble had much bigger activities on the agenda for that day – they were having a baby, and David was becoming a big brother.

Michael was born on that beautiful fall day at 1:41 in the afternoon.

Let’s skip to the year 1956… The house was on 21st street – The driveway had a brick wall on one side so it was ideal for him to set up a puppet show. The backyard was huge and the entire perimeter was lined with super tall poplar trees. We see Michael, with great affection pumping his girlfriend on his bicycle through the neighborhood so he could bring her to the house for a puppet show.

Our Michael was a born entertainer. When his mother put him in tap dance lessons he LOVED the stage so very much that they had to pull him off with a hook.

During the summers of Jr. High he got in trouble a lot. Being out of school he would find a way to go downtown to see a movie at the Lindsey or the State; he would stay all day then realize he didn’t have a way home.

It would be dark and his mom didn’t know where he was. Thus, the trouble he was in. After he got his driver’s license going to the movies became easier. He always liked going to summer matinees.

In high school he was in the marching band and his senior year he was offered a full music scholarship to Tech, but, in his words, he was too smart for that. The Navy had called his name and he would ship out following graduation.

Bootcamp was ANYTHING but enjoyable for our sailor boy, Mike, but the stories that he would tell of his navy days would live on forever. You see, he didn’t exactly have the best situation on his first assignment and the commanding officer was anything but great, but that was quickly remedied when he found himself pulling into port and seeing the USS Neptune with a hand painted sign hanging on the side proudly reading “FOR SALE”.

It was the perfect ship for our Radioman Second Class E5, Michael. He was awarded the National Defense Service medal in July of 1969 for supporting the Apollo 11 first Moon landing mission and was key to getting the Neptune out of the Bermuda triangle, the details of that will remain classified I suppose.

While in the Navy he decided that somehow he would go to USC. He was determined. He honestly hated it there. He worked in Hollywood at night as a projectionist and attended classes during the day. He lived behind the Shrine Auditorium — the worst location you can imagine. One semester was all he could take. Back to Lubbock he went!

During Christmas 1973 and Spring ’74, all he did was zone out on his mother’s sofa “watching” soap operas. No puppet shows those!

His mom was always very funny, that is, when he wasn’t in trouble for sneaking off to the movies. One day she walked through the den and just looked at the unanimated zombie he had become. She said, “why don’t you get in your car and drive down to Austin to see if you like The University of Texas?”

He took her up on that… graduated from UT in 1977. Along the way he got married to Kathy and had two amazing children, Lindsay and Blake

Late ’70’s through most of the ’80’s he was a stock broker with Merrill Lynch in Lubbock. Then in 1984 Movieland was born.

You can never question Michael’s love for cinema if you had walked into Movieland. He and Kathy created an experience of a movie rental store well ahead of its time and David and Vicki had Gizmos right next door.

During Halloween his love for horror and Kathy’s creativity brought to life their popcorn eating monsters lining the back wall in directors chairs and was the true treat of the season.

Even though he was a Naval veteran he had a distinct rule that he did not go upside down. It was during the late 80s that fateful day happened when he took his sweet daughter on an amusement park ride.

They were specifically in an airplane and he let her have the controls after thoroughly explaining his rule to her. She did not listen to his rule. They went upside down. It was glorious.

He returned to being a stock broker with Merrill Lynch but this time in Long Beach and then In ’89 he returned to Austin for a second degree, this time in Math, but plans changed.

For about 15 years he ran all the chemical management and chemical supply chain for major aerospace and defense manufacturers which was pretty funny since he didn’t have a degree in Chemistry. In his words “I guess most of my life has been all about serendipity, whether I walked through the open door or not.”

Michael had decades of experience in theatrical exhibition dating back to when there was a single channel speaker behind a perforated screen, to having worked in the first ground-up construction of the first THX auditorium built in the United States –

funny enough that is where he worked with his daughter, and where she met her future husband, when he simply walked in to see a movie – talk about serendipity.

To put it mildly, he had a lot of home theater and movie OPINIONS — he was very big on underrated/overlooked films and the converse of that is true about overrated films and he LOVED to tell you exactly what those opinions were, maybe with a rant along the way.

And then there was his love for leading ladies… and that whistle – he loved to whistle – especially when he was talking about those leading ladies.

With the popularity of rideshares, Michael found a love for driving for Uber and was one of their top 5 star performers, receiving numerous awards. He was never afraid of work, and was quite the opposite really. He welcomed it and was always eager – even when he got some wild rides.

He has written a handful of screenplays; they always finished in the top 10% of the Nichol Fellowship competition. One of them was a horror film; since the Nichol is Oh So High Brow, that can be interpreted to mean he had written the Citizen Kane of horror films!

While his mother named him Michael, he went by a new name for the latter 24 years of his life.

“Grandfather” was born with the birth of Lindsay and Jeremy’s first child, Avery, in August of 1999. They would have four more boys, Justin, Zander, Caelin and Racer for him to entertain with his vast love for cinema and gaming. Blake would match that and have 5 children of his own, Christian, Zion, Mia, Josiah and Andrew. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren and even more proud of the special relationship he had with them. He had a built in “fire team” with all of them and they spent many a day and night gaming together virtually. When asked about them he would proudly proclaim that each and every one should be movie stars.

Michael was always the smartest in the room, even if he wasn’t. He was somewhat a walking encyclopedia of knowledge but when asked a question he most always had the same answer – “look it up” – he could have easily told his daughter the answer, but no, he wanted her to discover it for herself. When he didn’t know something, SHOCKER I know, he had the most sheepish, entertaining laugh almost as if he was in disbelief but also quite amused. She took great joy when that would happen.

Oh and then there was his love and knowledge of music. He loved jazz music specifically and when scoffed at by his children he loved to tell them to “expand their horizons”.

His daughter once again took great joy in turning his own words back at him when he scoffed at HER music. Michael always found these moments amusing and would laugh with the greatest laugh.

Have you ever had the pleasure of being in the room with he and his brother, David? They could have had their own show and everyone would have tuned in. The back and forth between the two of them was unmatched. Move over Laurel and Hardy, Bob and Bing, Han and Chewie – David and Michael are the king of the duos.

He loved wrapping gifts, much to the amazement of his family. He loved walking in with the boxes and bags, featuring intricate, involved wrapping with just the right adornments Some even including a quiz before you could open it.

Racer can let you know with exact certainty and speed what the three R’s of a science fiction movie include. If they ever complained about the amount of gifts he was bringing in he would simply respond with “I AM my mother’s son” and everyone in the family knows that his mom truly believed she WAS Santa Claus.

And then there was that Christmas when he and David were little where they actually had to take a nap before continuing to open presents. Christmas was a production from the beginning, just like a fine tuned film, and just the way he liked it.

Michael Wayne LOVED his family and he knew how much they loved him. He shared his passions and hugs with such vigor that he will live on in their hearts forever, whether it’s sitting in the perfect spot in the movie theater for the perfect sound experience, enjoying a great slice of pizza and a perfectly poured Pacifico, playing Destiny together as a true “fire team” would, dancing until someone physically pulls you off stage, or ordering a margarita – but it absolutely cannot be a half ass margarita.

And maybe even, no definitely riding a roller coaster and going upside down.

One of his movies that he filmed, Do you know Steve, will forever haunt his grandchildren and I am sure they will delight in torturing their own children one day with a viewing party. I imagine watching it during the holidays, with plenty of egg nog and popcorn.

I personally will not ever be able to shoot a roman candle without thinking of my dad, and I don’t think any of us will be able to watch a movie on TCM or drink a sprite without acknowledging him.

Our Michael was a dreamer and wrote a children’s book titled “What if everyone wanted to be a dancer?” and the main character, Professor Singleton Sox, is quite the gem. I would love to share with you some of his wisdom.

Never fear what you should hold so dear,
you'll sway the day,
you'll have your way,
as your dreams curl all around you.
Dream as much AND as such,
a dream you can touch,
a dream of a dream, even those in the clutch,
a dream of a dream, the prize will be much,
its size is all up to you I proclaim it,
for I'm Sox, I'm Singleton Sox, Professor of
Dreams, Professor of Name It,
only YOU for your dreams will come true.
Dreams are the beginning of who you are and
what one day you'll do.
Dreams are dreams of DREAMS and then,
you'll dream up something New.
I'm Sox for sure, that's Sox for short, a
Professor of sorts, a Professor of Dreams of
dreams that say,
your dreams of dreams are dreams of YOU and
can never be taken away.

The perfect closing to any good story is vital and it seems only fitting we borrow his own ending to another of his screenplays he wrote from 2005 titled “Angels are so few”

Now a Flashbulb winks. the Picture FREEZES.

And the color gradually bleeds creating a black and white scrapbook photograph.

Scrapbook closes. FADE OUT.

Here’s looking at you, dad

I hope the pink full moon brings you every bit of renewal, release and JOY that you wish for.

With love and peace always,



you said:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *