On this Mother’s Day weekend I want to honor the most important person in my life growing up. It was on the 26th day of December 1922 when the best Christmas gift of my future life was born, my wonderful mother Irene Violet Anspach. She was born to Clarence and Margaret (Soliday) Anspach, the first of seven children, five girls and two boys near Indiantown Gap, PA. She was born, if not into poverty, into a very meager home which didn’t have many frills. Her mother Margaret (whose name means Pearl) was the pearl of her life and her mom had a tremendous Christian influence in her life. Being born the day after Christmas, for my mom there were many years her Christmas gift and birthday gifts were one in the same, but I never once heard her complain.
When she was growing up her family would often travel over Indiantown Gap to the little hamlet of Green Point where there was a country store keeper who allowed his customers to buy on credit or the “tick” as they sometimes called it. In those meager depression days many families had a very tough time making it. The kind and generous store owner was Allen J. Wolfe who had a grandson Warren A. Wolfe who worked at the store and he was the same age as Irene, born earlier in 1922 on May 2nd. Their friendship began and it eventually led to marriage. It was a Cinderella-like marriage and they had great hopes of living happily ever after.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as when my dad came home from WWII he began following in his own father’s alcoholic habit.
My brother Larry tells the story like this:
Although Dad was described as a friendly, likeable guy by those who knew him, he definitely came home from the war, a different guy, with a multitude of bad habits including a dependence on alcohol. Drink and the surrounding lifestyle it brings wrecked our home for alcohol was his priority, not his family. But, after twenty traumatic and very painful years of marriage, Mom divorced Dad in the spring of 1962 just months before my High School graduation. But, this is not the end of the story, it is only the beginning, for ‘The Wolfpack’ began to open up its range, covering new territory, as each of us began maturing, going our separate, but still connected, ways.
During those years, Mom was one of the greatest spiritual influences on our family, especially my older brother Warren and me, because in the summer of 1958, she enrolled the two of us in a catechism class that brought forth ‘Fruit that remains’ even until today, and will for eternity. At the conclusion of these classes we attended a Revival-style meeting which was going on in Mom’s family Methodist church. Pastor Arthur Miller preached a fiery salvation message and we went to the altar when the invitation was given and my brother Warren was saved.
As Larry mentioned, our Mom knew that her boys needed the influence of “The Faith” and I remember she would always make sure we prayed the “Now I lay me down to sleep” prayer at bed time and “God is great God is good prayer” at meal time. When she wasn’t working weekends she would see to it that we attended church and Sunday School and the Faith that our oldest brother Warren found would later prove very effective in reaching his little brothers with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mom had it VERY rough raising six boys on the little money she made waitressing or as a short order cook but we never knew it. We always had clean clothes to wear and there was always food on the table as simple a meal it might have been. One particular meal was called “Nep and Navy Beans”. She would take a ham bone (which she brought home from the restaurant) put it in a pot of water and pour in some Navy Beans then when it would boil she’d drop in some dough balls. We had that meal that often our little brother Fred once told her “No more Net Mom!”
She was very musical and had a beautiful voice and played the guitar and the piano. She put thumb tacks on the hammers in her old upright piano producing that old “honky-tonk” sound and we would often stand around the piano and sing with her. “Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money, maybe we’re ragged and funny. But we travel along singing a song, side by side! Oh we don’t know what’s coming tomorrow, maybe it’s trouble and sorrow, but we travel along singing a song, side by side.Through all kinds of weather, no matter if the stars should fall, just as long as we’re together, it really doesn’t matter all. Well, well, we don’t know what’s coming tomorrow, maybe it’s trouble and sorrow, but we’ll travel along singing a song, side by side!”
One thing she purposed to do and that was to keep us together as a family. That was her life’s goal and she acccomplished it with style. Our family get togethers grew large as almost all of the boys married and started families of their own.
In the community we were known as “Irene’s Boys” Warren, Larry, Brian, Bruce, Fred and Steven. I still meet people today who refer to me in the same way. Yep, I’m one of “Irene’s Boys” and proud of it! Mom’s in heaven now, since October 18th 1991 and I’m sure she’s glad of the sacrifice she made for her boys, we are sure proud of her!
I’ll let Larry close…..
And so, the loving, sacrificial influence of Mom, putting us in the right place at the right time became the very reason why we, ‘Irene’s boys’ as we were called by the people in the area, are children of God today! Yes, it was and still is the miraculous working of God throughout the history of our family that is the MAIN reason why we can truly say today, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done!!” As one Bible Preacher has rightly said: “It takes a thousand pounds of Preacher to equal one ounce of Mother”, Amen and Amen!
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