Eve Coleman's Eulogy
Our Mum, also known as Evo was born in 1927 in Stratford, East London to parents Sam & Nel. She was educated at Brentwood High School for girls, where she was, of course, a bright pupil who excelled at sport as well as French and playing the piano.
She captained both the hockey and netball teams which probably shaped her future life as someone who had steely determination and who knew exactly what she wanted. The family, including her sister Peggy and brother Sam, grew up in Chadwell Heath in a period which encompassed the second world war. Falling bombs were a regular, horrifying, occupational hazard during her teenage years, and were events that Mum kept well documented in her meticulous diaries. It seemed that she kept a log of every bomb that fell within the vicinity, with a description from a personal level and also local newspaper cuttings. We've passed these diaries on to the museum people as we're sure they will have a far better understanding of them. There were also a lot of yanks being mentioned, and we didn't really want to read about possible early boyfriends!
One amazing story that I was recently told by our Uncle Sam, who lives in Canada, was that the whole family would cycle from London to Cambridge, where our grandfather’s brothers and sisters lived, for their holidays. As they cycled there in 1940, the Battle of Britain was raging overhead, a remarkable story that Mum never said a word about. Having luckily survived all this drama of her early years, Mum left school at 17, and trained as a comptometer operator which was a sort of calculating machine. Whilst very capable at it, it wasn't really her and she yearned to do her bit so joined the land army. You can probably guess where this is going. She completed her training at Matching before being stationed on a farm on the Isle of Wight. However, she wanted to be on a farm nearer home, so she was transferred to a small arable and dairy farm in Takeley, where the farmer's son was one Geoffrey Coleman. During this initial spell at Parkers Farm, Mum lodged with Harry & Murial Rogers at Bambers Green.
She did move farms however, probably due to Geoffrey's Father, who she described in her diary as a tight, miserable bugger! The lure of Geoffrey must have been too strong though, for she moved back to Parkers, and after a longish courtship they finally married in 1954.
Colin was born in 56, Michael in 59 then myself (Phillip) in 61 (hoping I was to be a girl).
To say we 3 boys were a challenge to bring up, was probably a bit of an understatement. We had fantastic freedom on the farm, and would get up to all sorts of mischief, with our poor mother not knowing where we were until we needed feeding, much to her distress. It wasn't until we grew beetle haircuts, that Mum's particular style of discipline came to the fore. With one quick movement she would grab our long locks bringing us to the floor, screaming for mercy and agreeing to any of her conditions — even the washing up! I've already mentioned her sporting abilities, and Mum was never shy of joining in any game, be it snooker, football or cricket. She was a fearsome fast bowler, with an unorthodox style, and, on a dodgy wicket in the back garden, she could be unplayable. Many a window was broken as we fished outside the off stump only to get a thick edge followed by the familiar sound of shattering glass behind us.
She tried her hand as a driving instructor, but threw in the towel after a 9 year old Colin demolished the front porch, when he got the brake and accelerator pedals mixed up, something that plagued him throughout his teens. She could be funny without meaning to be. One classic comment came when we were holidaying with great friends the Pallett family on the Norfolk broads. I'm not saying Colin was accident prone but, whilst pushing the barge away from the bank, he didn't quite jump on board in time and as he was left outstretched with his hands on the barge and his feet on the bank, hanging on with just one place to go, Mum looked out the window, "Colin, what do you think you're doing, get back on the boat NOW" .. ...Splash.
Mum was a typical small farmers wife. She played a big part in the running of the farm, from keeping the accounts and looking after up to 500 pigs — both of which she did into her mid 70's. She never shied away from hard work and she would be very involved in both the cereal and potato harvests and was often the driving force behind Dad. As the farm changed by becoming more mechanised, Mum learnt to type at evening classes and took up some temporary secretarial work at a number of local firms, before taking on a full time post at Chafers, an agricultural company based on the site where the airport terminal now sits. She stayed there for many years until the company re-located, and Mum, now about 60, worked for Colin for his engineering business.
When Colin relocated his business from the farm to Great Dunmow and became computerised, Mum decided to secretly attend a Computer course in the evenings. Despite being the oldest student she graduated with a distinction and I believe was top of the class.
Mum was an enthusiastic and energetic member of the village community. She devoted many years to the tennis, badminton and cricket club where she was a scorer. Unfortunately, Dad didn't trouble her much in the score book as he struggled with hand/eye coordination a trait Michael carried with him onto the Rugby field.
She was also an active member of the British Legion, the Church and for many, many years she was the secretary of the village hall, as John will shortly document.
In her late 60's Mum suffered a brain aneurism which by rights should have finished her. Following major surgery, she was left barely able to walk and with her sight badly affected. But with her trademark determination and sheer bloody mindedness, she slowly but surely recovered, so that a year later you wouldn't have known she'd been so dangerously ill.
After Dad died in 09, Mum coped pretty well for several years, but then suffered a series of mini stokes which she typically viewed as a bit of a nuisance, but this was followed by the onset of dementia and then a broken hip. She still lived in the farmhouse at this stage, but she obviously needed routine helpers who included sons and daughter-in-laws with shopping, and house cleaning every Saturday morning. Eventually she required full time care, so the decision was made for a live-in carer. We were extremely lucky to get the wonderful Margaret from Ghana, and her and Mum, after a slightly shaky start, soon struck up a rapport.
Margaret was brilliant with Mum and it wasn't long before we could hear the pair of them singing together when we came in the house. Unfortunately, every time Margaret had a week off, Mum would deteriorate a little bit and when Margaret went home for the winter, and Mum was needing more care than it was fair to expect one person to give, we reluctantly agreed it was best for Mum to be cared for, full time in a care home.
Luckily at the time the fantastic Redbond Lodge in Dunmow had a room available, in which she settled very quickly and received excellent compassionate care from the dedicated staff, some of whom are here today.
Thanks to all of you for looking after, and genuinely liking Mum, particularly her smile.
It was a great comfort to us all knowing that she was safe and well cared for which we could see every time we visited.
Sadly, after some 18 months she went down with one infection too many, and she peacefully passed away.
Phillip Coleman, 5th June 2019