I am finally getting back to writing after a spell away. I haven’t physically been anywhere but after the death of my Uncle it took a while to feel like writing again and I have been incredibly busy besides – always with family history! My ancestors keep me very busy!
When considering what should be my first writing venture back after such a while I re-read some of my former posts and felt that I should write more about family members who are near whom I haven’t yet written about before the opportunity is lost and memories are dim so today I am taking the chance to tell you just some of my memories of a beautiful Aunt – Irene Edwards.
My Auntie Irene was the eldest child of six born to my Grandma and Granddad Edwards. She was born 16 June 1935 in Dukinfield, Cheshire, England and out of all my dad’s siblings, she was the most like him – in female form! She was a very special lady and was taken from this earth far too early in my opinion. She died 29 March 1997 At Christie’s hospital in Manchester, England. I was in my mid-20s and for me it was the first death of a close family member that I had ever experienced so closely and tangibly.
The image above for me is the essence of my Auntie Irene – always smiling, always happy! I have other images of my Auntie Irene and they are all the same. Even as a child she was seen to be happy and smiling.
I don’t ever recall seeing my Auntie Irene unhappy, angry, upset or sad. I’m sure she must have had times like that – no-one goes through life without their share but Irene was the perfect air of positivity. She welcomed everybody with a smile and you just wanted to be around her. Her problems never showed on her face.
She was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attended the Hyde ward of this Church throughout her lifetime. My father and her brother was also a member but Irene joined first in 1959. She was the first and only member of her family to join the Church at that time and I never asked but often wondered how it was for her joining. I know of some of the difficulties my father first experienced joining the church and wondered if it was similar for my Aunt. Those difficulties were overcome with time in my father’s case and I am sure overcome in Irene’s case also if they ever existed at all. She was a woman of strong faith and conviction and was confident of what she believed. I admired her for that and feel some of that has certainly rubbed off on myself.
She came across to me as mild-mannered yet firm and resolute, someone who was happy and confident to state her position but did it with politeness and a measure of kindness that was always respectful. I felt like she would have made an incredible diplomat for she was persuasive without being over-bearing. She was humble in her ways and generous in her spirit. She gave everything of herself to others – family, friends, colleagues, strangers.
She was influential in bringing my father to church. Two of her brothers, including my father were at a loose end one evening and were going to go out for a drink at the pub but decided to go along to the Church at Irene’s invitation first as there was a dance on that particular evening. My dad and his brother were under the impression that if nothing else it would be a good opportunity to “pick up” a couple of pretty girls and take them out for a drink following on from the dance. At that dance, however, my dad met my mother who then went on to teach my dad the gospel and he was later converted and baptized in 1962 before marrying my mother the following year. When I think of the blessings that have followed since, I have to silently give thanks to my Aunt who first extended an invitation to my dad and instigated the start of something incredible for my family.
I stayed at her house overnight once that I remember as a young child not yet in my teens. I remember feelings of warmth, comfort, fun and laughter – feelings I always experienced when at Grandma’s house and feelings I always experience now when returning home so I know she learnt how to keep a good home from her mother and that family was the most important thing to her. She never married but had a daughter and two grandchildren who I know were her world, so much so that she fought death right to the very end until she was re-assured that her family would be alright and she could let go.
She was a great example and an incredible teacher, again, qualities found in my dad and I hope myself. Many I have met who knew my Auntie Irene tell me how much like her I am and if it is so then I am proud to be so for she was a wonderful wonderful lady. Until recently I owned a piano that I had inherited from her. It was in fact my piano to begin with that had returned to me. I had learned to play on it but it had passed to her when we moved house in 1981 so she could learn and then came back to me when she died. I remember it in her house though and her playing on it so when I got it back, it held memories of her for me and I could only part with it very recently after knowing it was going to a good home and would continue to be loved. It’s funny how objects have such a hold over you with the memories they carry.
I remember visiting my Aunt’s body in the funeral home shortly before she was buried – my first experience as I say of seeing a family member following their death and remember the strong feelings I received then that death was just a passing and that what essentially was my Auntie Irene was not there in that shell of a body that had been worn out from disease but that she had most definitely moved on beyond to something far greater. It is a feeling I have felt since in the passing of other family members too and it gives me hope of seeing this wonderful lady again – a hope that I may go where she has gone and we can be reunited and feel all of the love we felt here on this earth and more besides. I know it is a belief that my Auntie Irene had and is one I share with her – till we meet again Auntie Irene!