We Remember

Wollenberg, Irene

With mixed emotions we said good-bye to our mom, Irene Wollenberg, who passed away on Thursday, November 26, 2020.  We are sad to lose a great mom but happy that her isolation is over, and she is now reunited with her husband John who she dearly loved.  He was her eyes and she was his feet; together they were truly one.  We can just imagine the welcome she’ll receive by her Heavenly Father, husband, and many friends.

Irene embraced the traditional role as a pastor’s wife for much of her life.  It suited her perfectly.  She was able to use her gifts of hospitality, leadership, and mentorship to serve various churches over 35 years.  People might not have remembered her words, but they always remembered how she made them feel — welcomed and encouraged.  Mom also had a paying career as a licensed practical nurse where she brought those same attributes to those under her care. We benefited from this nursing career as she gently attended to our many sports injuries over the years.

Mom expressed her love in a multitude of ways. Three that top the list are cooking, encouragement, and prayer. We were thrilled to arrive at her home and find she had prepared our favourite foods. The smells of freshly baked cinnamon buns and kuchen will be lifelong links to her.  She didn’t hesitate to tell us how very proud she was of us regardless of the achievement. Her commitment to pray every day for her family has been the greatest blessing we could receive. Those prayers have covered all of us in ways we will never know.

Her love, prayers, and dedication for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren provided a solid foundation and strong heritage upon which they can build. Wonderful memories were made as she got down on her knees to play with them; weekend trips with just the grandkids in the motorhome; innumerable hours playing board games as they became older; many personal phone calls to deliver an important message of love or concern and listening with rapt attention to current affairs in each life.

Another special bond was with her brother and sister. Their relationship strengthened and grew over the years even though there was a geographical and age distance.  Many a story of growing up on the farm was passed down to the rest of the family when we had an occasion to all be together. This was done with much laughter, joy and the occasional tear.  At times the stories would be spiced up with a German phrase or two that only they understood. It was beautiful to hear each sibling sing a song from their heart with shaky voices to their deeply loved sister in her final hours.

Of course she wasn’t perfect. Much to her parents’ chagrin, young Irene taped red paper to her fingernails (nail polish was verboten!) prior to an evening out. Or during card games a frustrated “OH FAT” would escape her lips – mostly when being partnered with John.

While we were severely restricted in visiting mom in her last months of life there were daily phone calls where we could connect and share together. These conversations would conclude with the words “I love you” being declared to mom, with her response of “I love you too or I love you boy!”. When all else on this earth fades away this love is what will remain within our hearts for our mom.

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