It is impossible to enter Thompson Town in Clarendon and not notice the charming, single-storey building which is adorned with red, green and gold mouldings at the roofline, windows and an entrance arch.
But this is no normal ‘house’. Although it is big enough to hold a queen-size bed and maybe even a dresser, it is the final resting place for Aston Shirley, a 69-year-old community stalwart who died on December 29, and was buried last Saturday.
Shirley’s tomb, which is the talk of the town, is metres from the three-storey house in which he lived.
Family members declined to say how much was spent on the grave and its house, which even has fancy windows.
Kavin, one of Shirley’s 14 children, said that his father was extremely deserving of the lavish send-off.
“He loved stone walls and arches so we made sure that his final resting place had aspects of both,” Kavin, former councillor for the Thompson Town Division, told THE STAR.
The grave in which the elder Shirley’s remains were interred is covered with black porcelain tiles, while the house-sized tomb has white tiles.
But there are still some finishing touches being made.
“We will also be hanging up a lot of family pictures inside, so from time to time family members will come here come chill and check out the big man and find out how he is doing,” Kavin said.
He told THE STAR that some may turn up their noses at such an extravagant send-off, but they remain unbothered.
“To be honest, I don’t see anything that this man wouldn’t do for his kids. If space was there, then is up there my father should have been buried,” Kavin told THE STAR. “I know that we are being criticised by some, (saying) that this money could assist other people. But no, his legacy deserves to live on. Our dad had no idea or expressed any desire to be buried like this, but he really deserved this.”
When the news team visited the structure yesterday, several wreaths were laid out on the top of the tomb while workmen were busy tiling sections of the grave and flooring.
Symbols of Shirley’s Rastafarian’s faith were evident on the interior and exterior of the building, while dozens of ackees were placed all around the dwelling.
MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME
“He sold to every factory you can think of in Jamaica. This was his main source of income, but he was also a builder who loved stone walls. He was very instrumental in building his mansion, and imagine, he did this with only one leg. He purchased this land and we told ourselves that no one else could bury on this land except him. We had to send him off in fine style because he loved his children and no matter how old we were, we were still his kids,” Kavin said.
An ackee vendor for decades, Shirley, who battled diabetes among other ailments, died doing what he loved.
“He had one leg but he was a very good driver. As usual, he went to look ackee on Mocho main road and fell sick. He came up and rub up his body and parked the van neatly. There was another person with him and he was transported to hospital where he died,” Kavin said.
Shirley was remembered as a man who was involved in the lives of many of the community’s children, often providing resources for them to attend school.
“He lived a full life and has touched the lives of a lot of people. My father believed in education and there is no child that would come to him for lunch money and he didn’t provide it. Even when he was on his sick days, he would ensure that he had money to give them,” Kavin said
Shirley’s widow Rhona said: “He worked harder than some men with two legs. He left an impact wherever he went. He was very helpful and he liked food. Him always a say ‘put on di pot on di fire’. Even when him go St Thomas at the ackee factory, he would bring his things and cook his food there.”