Whenever the name Irene was spoken you could not help smiling. She was not only a mother, grandmother and an aunt; she was a baker, a dancer, a fashion plate, a lover of life, a friend, a carer and as my cousin Kathy Bull said a few weeks ago, she was one of the last true "broads" left.
My earliest memory of Irene was visiting her at Stony Run. I could not have been more than a few years old, but even then I knew how special she was and what a treat it was to go and visit her. Sure she had the requisite goodies most parents did not have at their homes, but it was more than that. Irene just made you feel special, like a princess, and I think that was because she herself was so extraordinary.
I remember Irene telling stories about working nights at the USO in New York and the many sailors she would meet and dance with until all hours. It was clear she knew how to have a great time, regardless of the circumstances. She would tell stories and show photos of she and my grandfather whooping it up on cruises and traveling all over, always perfectly dressed and accesorized for the occasion.
When we started driving to Duck every summer I remember countless hot sticky hours wedged in the backseat of the station wagon. Irene always had a totebag with a stash of some sort of treats to appease Courtney and me and keep Sandy from threatening to "stop this car". Once we finally arrived in Duck we got an entire summer of days on end of Irene's famous baking! She could take a pile of rotten peaches and turn it into a fruit salad or a tart in minutes. As we got older she attempted to give us etiquette lessons at dinner while we introduced her to who Jimmy Buffett was.
Irene was far more than just our grandmother; she was a permanent fixture in so many lives. She would show up at just about anyones house to take prom pictures, see them off to college, or celebrate a birthday walking up to anyone she didn'tt know and say Hello, Im Irene Fitzmorris.
Irene was also known for her quips, and as her health started failing we stole a line from Kitty Keegan and said the only thing still sharp was her tongue. I think my all time favorite was when we went to see her the day after she moved into Golden Hill. I asked her how her 1st night had been and she said, The nightlife herell kill ya!
Irene led a long and full fabulous life. She loved a good party, a cocktail and to make sure everyone around her was having a good time and taken care of. And that is what she did up until the very end. Irene made sure that my mom was with me and my dad was with Courtney when her time came.