After a courageous battle with cancer, our dear mom, Babcia, and mother-in-law Irena, found peace in the morning of December 29, 2021, at her home with her family.
Sadly predeceased by her daughter Violetta on January 3, 2021, by her husband of 56 years, Leszek, in 2017, and her mother Stasia in 2006. We take solace in the thought that all four are reunited and wrapped in each other’s arms.
Left to mourn are her daughters Ilona and Dorothy, granddaughters Jackie and Natalia, her son-in-law Tom Hauptkorn and his family, and her many special and dear friends.
Our mom was born in Poland and was raised in Jelenia Gora by her strong and independent mother Stasia, who in turn helped our mom become the loving, resilient, confident and amazing woman we all so dearly loved and cherished.
Our mom and dad fell in love during her teen years, and happily married in 1961. They welcomed their first child Violetta in 1962 and had their second daughter, Ilona, in 1971. The Kolber family spent many happy years in Poland with their close friends and family.
Mom had visited our grandma Stasia in Winnipeg in the sixties, and had fallen in love with the city, super cold winters and all. The family chose to emigrate to Canada and arrived in 1973. They added to their family with the birth of their third daughter, Dorothy. Our parents soon established their careers and bought a house in the Maples, where they were able to give their children a wonderful childhood, full of trips to the beach, mushroom picking in the forest, and family vacations to Banff and BC.
Our Mom and Dad made many close and special friends in Winnipeg. There were many dinner parties where good food and great conversations were the focus of the night, and us children remember playing together while listening to all the grownups laughing.
Our mom was an only child, but she often said her dearest friends were like her sisters. Anna Angeloni, Genia Gagro, Mary Rowinski, Christina Rech and Teresa Janus, thank you so very much for being a part of her life, for all the telephone calls, the girls’ nights out at Boston Pizza and for all the love and support you gave our mom, especially in this last difficult year. She loved you all so very much.
Irena worked for over 30 years at Lifetouch (originally Winnipeg Photo) and was very proud of her position as a photo colour inspector. She made many friends among her co-workers, Wanda Pavlicic and many more, and shared a lot of warm memories with them during the years.
Our mom was a wonderful cook, and made many delicious Polish meals, all without recipes. A little of this, a little of that, never the exact same twice. We all laughed when our mom let us in on a secret – she hated cooking and was so good at it only to get it over with as quickly as possible. Although she shared as many of her cooking tips as she could with us, we know that we will all miss her special dishes.
Irena cherished being a mother, and always mentioned how very lucky she felt to have three daughters, but her greatest joy came later in life, in the role of the world’s best grandmother, Babcia, to her 2 special granddaughters.
When Vi and Tom had Jackie, Irena couldn’t have been a happier, more loving Babcia to her first grandchild. We all shared many happy family moments, now made even more special with Jackie. This included a wonderful trip to Florida, where Jackie and Babcia went on Disney World rides together. Jackie will always lovingly remember Babcia singing A-A-A, Kotki Dwa to her, a special song they shared.
Our mom was given a precious gift when a second granddaughter, Natalia, was born. Now retired, Irena had the luxury of time to dote on the newest member of our family. Our mom held a special role in raising Natalia, including years of daily walks to the school bus stop. In 2018 Irena travelled to Banff with Natalia and was able to share her love of the mountains. Natalia’s funniest and fondest memory of her Babcia was on this trip, where Babcia mistook a piece of ice in a drink for something quite different.
In 2007 after 34 years in Canada, mom made her first trip back to Europe. She had the most amazing time reconnecting with her friends Halina, Jadzia, Teresa, Dorota, Honora and their families. It was like the years apart hadn’t changed a thing, and they all spent weeks enjoying reminiscing over their youth and visiting so many beautiful places in Poland and Europe. Our mom stayed in touch with them, over countless phone calls, and we want to thank all her friends in Poland for being there with their love and support.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Riverview 3E; mom was so grateful for their tender care for the months she was there. Thank you to the homecare aides and the Palliative nurses who helped us with the gift of caring for mom at home before her passing. Our family’s most eternal gratitude goes to Dr. Maciej Bialy, who’s compassion, empathy and assistance was extraordinary. Throughout Violetta’s struggle and our family’s grief, and then during my mom’s battle with cancer this year, he gave our mom and all of us such incredible comfort and support. Our mom wanted us to thank you from her for your last phone call when you selflessly took the time to offer her consolation and sympathy. Thank you very, very much Dr. Bialy from us all.
Our mom, Irena, was a pillar of strength and resilience during our family’s most difficult year. First with the heart-breaking passing of her cherished daughter Violetta in January, then with her own devasting diagnosis of terminal cancer in July, through all these challenges our mom’s courage was awe inspiring and proved she was the strongest woman we have ever known. Our mom, Babcia and mother-in-law was incomparable, amazing and the best mother we could ever have known. Our only comfort is that her suffering is finally over, and she is in peace with our loved ones in heaven.
There will always be an enormous hole in our hearts, and we will miss you forever. Kochamy Cię
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