Christina Penner (nee Voth), age 81 years of Altona, Manitoba, passed away on Friday, May 15, 2020 at Eastview Place.
Mom was born in Morden, Manitoba and spent her early years there. She went to school until Grade 10 and finished high school by correspondence. She was a bright student with an aptitude for numbers and won many prizes for spelling competitions. As a young woman she held various secretarial and bookkeeping positions and moved to Altona to begin work at CFAM in 1957. In Altona she met Dad and they married in 1959. When children came along, she stayed home to care for them. While at home she also worked for Braun Agencies and later at the Altona Credit Union. Over the years Mom used her administrative gifts to work together with Dad to keep their affairs meticulously in order and to compile information for and type history books for both the Penner and Zacharias families. She also served as secretary/treasurer on many committees at church and in the community, volunteering for organizations including Ten Thousand Villages, Southern Manitoba Concerts, the Gallery in the Park, and the Altona Figure Skating Club, among many, many others.
Mom received deep enjoyment and satisfaction from keeping busy and working incredibly hard. For many years she had a large garden which she and Dad tended together and she diligently prepared and canned the vegetables, using them in countless pots of soup. She kept the freezer stocked with homemade buns. She kept a spotless house. She cared for her parents and in later years her elderly mother with regular trips to Morden to help with paperwork and errands. Her hobbies kept her very busy as well; she enjoyed knitting, crocheting, painting, ceramics, plastic canvas, scrapbooking, and from time to time, sewing and quilting. She was an avid reader and enjoyed crossword puzzles and word searches. She was a collector of many things - coins, stamps, spoons, bells, dolls - all carefully organized and beautifully displayed. She walked regularly to keep healthy and fit. One might think Mom never rested but she did enjoy watching TV, especially game shows, talk shows and Country Music Television, and she always managed to find time to watch curling and Blue Jays games.
The ultimate hostess, Mom was known for her hospitality - her superb cooking and baking with an abundance and variety of dishes on her elegant table - and for putting on elaborate dos - from numerous family gatherings, faspas and birthday parties to Dad’s annual Christmas party for friends and colleagues. She was incredibly generous and showed her love in many ways including shopping for and choosing meaningful gifts and cards for every occasion, and bringing baking to those who were grieving or celebrating.
Travelling was a source of joy throughout her life - family vacations, overseas trips to see Tannis and Keith in England and to Germany for Dad’s work, to Barbados with Dad, day trips exploring Manitoba and to various tearooms with friends, and bus trips across North America several times per year. She always came home from bus trips having made new friends, many of whom she maintained contact with even until this past year. An integral part of the travel experience was purchasing and displaying souvenirs and taking numerous pictures followed by creatively scrapbooking the photos as soon as possible upon her return.
Mom loved to socialize and has always been involved with many groups meeting on a regular basis including 55 Plus at the Altona Bergthaler Church, Rhineland After Five, Homemakers, Friendship Bible Coffees, the Red Hatters, the 39ers and coffee dates with friends in town several days per week. She had a strong and expansive network of beloved sisters-in-law and friends who cared for her and encouraged her throughout her life and especially after Dad’s move to the care home.
After Dad’s accident Mom needed to down-size but did not yet feel ready for an apartment, and chose instead to buy a duplex close to the center of town. She was looking forward to having her own home and maintaining her independence. Her arm was already beginning to bother her by this time. Shortly after moving she became ill and required various surgeries and hospital stays. Her arm worsened and — with great hope that a diagnosis and treatment would be found — she began seeing a series of specialists. Her movement ability continued to decline and she eventually required home care, moving to the Gardens on Tenth when living in a house became too difficult.
Mom was finally, devastatingly, diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration - a rare, progressive neurological disorder. She was admitted to hospital in February, 2019 and waited for a room at the care home. She was so eager to live at Eastview Place and trusted that there she would yet experience a better quality of life. She was finally able to move in January of this year. She declined further and rapidly after her move and though suffering with severe pain, anxiety and immobility her mind remained sharp. She enjoyed Bible studies, bingo, musical events and regular visits from her Palliative care volunteers and her many friends. She loved to chat with visitors and, while being honest about her fear, discouragement and sadness, she was grateful for the many joys experienced in her life. She remained mindful of and concerned for Dad, and engaged and interested in the goings on in the world and in the lives of her family and friends. The care home was locked down in March due to COVID 19. Mom was impacted deeply by the loss of community. When it became clear that she would not live much longer, she could receive visits in her room from immediate family members. We were thankful — after two long months — finally to be able to see her on Mother’s Day in her room. We will always treasure that day and special visits in the following days which included quality time and many tender moments while she was still able to communicate.
Mom was a life-long example of a quiet, fervent faith in Christ which gave her much encouragement and purpose. She was baptized in 1957 at the Morden Bergthaler Church, and transferred her membership to the Altona Bergthaler Church when she and dad got married. She attended there faithfully and was disciplined in Bible-reading, prayer and giving. In the recent years of pain and suffering she spoke more freely of her love for Jesus and her longing to be with Him. It gave her hope and strength, helping her to endure excruciating circumstances. She is now, finally, at peace and resting in God’s unending love.
Warmest thanks from Mom and our whole family to: Wiebe Funeral Home, Altona; Dr. Woelk; Dr. Winning and the staff at the Altona hospital and Eastview Place; Mom’s home care visitors and coordinators; the staff at Gardens on Tenth; Joel and all at Pembina Valley Pharmacy; the pastoral staff and visitors from the Altona Bergthaler Church; Mary Penner and Leona Nickel, Mom’s faithful palliative care volunteers and special friends; Shirley Selman for her friendship and doing Mom’s hair all these years; the lovely 39ers who celebrated Mom’s 81st birthday with her; and to her dear friend Leona Braun and all of the friends and relatives who visited and encouraged Mom over the years.
A private family service was held with interment at the Altona Cemetery.
Donations in memory of Chris Penner may be made to Diabetes Canada.