Irene Arnone passed away the evening of February 3, 2022, peacefully, at the Civic Hospital with a Ukrainian lullaby playing in the background. She died of natural causes at age 86, surrounded by her loving family.
Irene came to Canada, along with her mother Tanya, from post war Ukraine to find a better life. Settling in Ottawa in her late teens, she met a handsome guitarist, Giuseppe, playing in a band at the weekly Saturday night dance at the YMCA. It was love at first sight. They got married a year later and settled in the Glebe, where Irene worked as a seamstress. As the family expanded to three kids, they moved to the McKellar Park area to raise them. Irene gave up sewing and took up a job at the Sears Carlingwood candy counter. Mother made good use of her lifetime Sears discount, helping her three children furnish their homes when they married. She learned to cook Italian from relatives, making the best tomato sauce from garden tomatoes grown from seed. She also made the most wonderful cabbage rolls, vareniki and borscht. She was an amazing cook.
Mom had a green thumb featuring a house full of indoor plants, her outdoor flower gardens or the vegetable garden with father. She would sit in the solarium and watch the chickadees make their nests and rail at the squirrels that dared to enter her backyard and pillage her flower beds.
Irene was Nonna to seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren and loved each one with no bounds. All of us were the beneficiaries of her free daycare and cringed at what she may have done to spoil them that day. It probably had something to do with candy.
Irene was a habitual prankster – it wasn’t uncommon to leave her place and find a Halloween size Smarties box or KitKat bar in your pocket, boot or glove, or all three. You tried to ignore it, and not make eye contact with her, but when you did look back, she’d have that look in her eye and you’d both have a good laugh as you were leaving.
Her love for her husband “Pepe” never wavered through to the very end. Their last time together, father gave her a big smooch and she opened her eyes, smiled and then fell back to sleep.
Irene is survived by her devoted husband Giuseppe (Joe) and three children Mario (Lynn), Helen Souter Wilson (Steve) and Andy (Denise), her grandchildren Ryan, Chris (Brianna), Andrew (Jill), Patrick (Heather), Robert (Aysha), Dylan (Hanna) and Cassidy (Riley) and great grandchildren Damien, Xavier, Elizabeth, Leo and Axton. Sadly, Charlie the racoon will miss his nightly feeding.
Special thanks to Dr. John Scott for his empathy, compassion and guidance throughout mother’s final journey and especially nurse Kim in E157 for providing mother the dignity she deserved.
Interment will be deferred to a later date and a private ceremony is planned. In the spirit of Irene, you can donate to the Alzheimer’s Society or do something kind for someone. And do it with a smile