This is the eulogy I prepared and delivered for my Grandmother Irene’s memorial service held in November 2014. She had recently passed away aged 94.
My Grandmother, Irene, was described by my brother Jason as an ‘old school Londoner who always knew her neighbours and helped them out’. I remember a quotation she displayed in her kitchen at her house in Sundale Avenue which said ’happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy’.
Irene was the fourth child of Frederick and Violet Green, born 29th February (it was a leap year) 1920. They lived in a Victorian Terraced House with a little yard that backed onto the North London railway line with steam trains thundering past.
I remember my Nan telling me one time about her mother, Violet, saying that lots of people would come to the door that needed help, and she would always go and find something in her pantry for them to take away. I now know that her mother was a founding member of her local branch of the British Legion, and served faithfully for 37 years, including serving as Chairman and President. So Nan was raised with this example of service, which we know she carried through her own life.
Irene’s mother ensured that Irene could cook, sew and do practical things around the house. At the age of 16 Irene worked in a Counting House, and she writes of that experience, “I learnt to hold my own counsel, be a good listener and to trust no one – there is very little sentiment in business, but lots of envy”.
A very attractive 19 year old, Irene married on 4th March 1939 Edward Alfred Carter (known as Ted) at Highgate, London. This was the year that the Second World War started, and whilst working during the day, Irene served as a fire warden at night during the bombing of London. Irene got to watch the aerial Battle of Britain over London from Putney Heath.
Once the war was over, Irene had her two boys, Alan and Chris. They remember spending summers with their Mum in Wimbledon Park having picnics, building camps and feeding the ducks. Irene was a good mother and wife and always put other family members first. Alan and Chris didn’t hang up stockings for Santa, they hung up pillow cases and their Mum always managed to fill them! Irene was always fiercely proud of her two sons.
Irene worked most of her married life. I remember her telling me about her time at Alfred Marks Employment Bureau, she loved the fact that she was helping people find work. It was unusual for married women to work in those days, and I remember her no-nonsense approach when describing to me how she worked through even when feeling rough with morning sickness.
Irene’s husband Ted was beset with ill-health throughout their married life and Irene supported him and kept the family solvent.
On the 14th June 1962 Irene was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with Alan and Chris. This was the start of Irene’s exemplary service in the Church. She was an amazing cook and made legendary steak and kidney pies. When asked if he could drive the scouts to Cornwall a friend replied “Only if Irene makes me a bread pudding.” When entertaining Irene would always produce at least three dessert options and then she would ask the question “would you like a bit of each?” How could anyone resist strawberry trifle, lemon meringue pie and fruit salad all topped with ice cream?
When both Alan and Chris had left home Irene lived for a time in a basement flat. When the paraffin heater in the hallway started producing black smoke she called the fire brigade. Having established that the potential fire was in the basement of a block of flats the fire brigade arrived with three large engines. Irene was totally distraught at all the bother she was causing and said to the firemen “But, I only wanted you to send a little one!”
Ted was hospitalised in 1975 and Irene was with him just before he died.
After a spell of poor health, Irene moved from Braemar Avenue in Wimbledon, to Sundale Avenue, Selsdon, to be near Alan and Rosalind and a hundred yards from Selsdon Chapel.
As grandchildren we liked having our Nan living so close by, especially as it was during the years when our parents had got rid of the television. So we would go down on whatever evening our favourite TV show was on, and she would spoil us with sandwiches, cake and drinks. I remember her decorating the window with pictures and flags when it was the Royal Wedding.
Irene gave many years of Temple Service. At one time, she was living in the Gate House with two other lady friends. On Saturday mornings they had an early start at 5 and to wake themselves up they would do the dance of the sugar plum fairies in their pink nighties. She was also the secret treat giver – whenever she would see one of the groundsmen’s wheelbarrows, she would perch a Mars bar on the handle so it would be there when they came back. They didn’t know who was doing this, but one time one of the gardeners lay in wait behind a bush and caught her red-handed.
Irene also ran the church employment programme from Mitcham Chapel whilst still experiencing dizzy spells. She got great pleasure out of helping lots of people find employment using her skills developed whilst working for Alfred Marks.
In February 1986, Irene, (who was very nervous about flying) flew to the USA to serve a mission at the Washington DC Temple. It was whilst attending French classes there that she attracted the attention of an elderly American widower called Lucas Moe!
Irene was married to Luke in October that same year, she was 66 and he was 70. Having honeymooned in Florida, they completed their mission after doing an extra year as a ‘thank-you’ to the Lord for having met each other there at the Temple. Before their move back to England they were given a send-off by their friends they had made in the US. Irene always had lots of friends, as she was outgoing and went out of her way to get to know people, calling everyone ‘dear’, or ‘treasure’.
Irene and Luke kept themselves busy, with working at the Temple, running the Church’s Family History Library at Wandsworth Chapel, and working on the transcribing of the 1881 UK census. Irene loved helping others with their genealogical research. Anyone that saw them together could see how happy they were. They were as affectionate as a couple of youngsters, often embarrassing us with all their kissing and hugging.
A few years later, in 1995 they emigrated to Farmington, Utah, and were settled there, until a Christmas visit to England in 1998 when Irene was advised by her doctor not to fly again, so they stayed in England, choosing to live in the village of Lingfield, a mile from the Temple, fulfilling a lifelong dream of Irene’s to live in the countryside.
Irene had strong principles and I remember her telling me that she had written letters to the Prime Minister and The Queen, over things she felt strongly about and received a reply from a Lady in Waiting. She was always lovely and gentle to us as grandchildren, but she was forthright in her views.
Irene’s character remained constant throughout her life, even as her and Lucas’s health failed. Any visitor to their home would leave with a pack of biscuits or other treat in hand.
Everyone here will have their own memories of Irene, that of someone who shone as an example to us all. Her zest for life, the twinkle in her eye, and her cheery disposition made an impression on many. Her acts of kind service that went above and beyond touched the lives of many.
I am proud that Irene Elsie Mary Moe was my grandmother and I hope that we will remember her, and her indomitable spirit.