I’m sitting in the library uploading business card orders to my printer and waiting on a meeting with another local businessman. It’s been one year and one week since Virginia passed due to complications from breast cancer. A lot has changed. I’ve chronicled most of my changes here and I don’t really feel the need to rehash.
I spent most of the day May 12th crying over Virginia. The wounds are still there, though with the passage of time they hurt less. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through the day without Ashya.
It’s been a frustrating year as I’ve been looking for work since September of 2010 when I got laid off. It gets very frustrating to hear potential employers tell me that they’d love to hire me but won’t because I have too much experience. I’m in my 40s with a wife and 5 kids to take care of, don’t tell me that I’ve got too much experience for the job.
I explored the option of going back to school but ultimately didn’t because my former employer keeps forgetting to send me a written notification of being laid off (a necessary prerequisite to getting funding). I’ve taken tests to see if there’s another career option that I’m suited for, nope I’m uniquely suited to do what I’m doing.
I finally went out and started up my own business and much to my surprise (but not my wife’s), the business is taking off with a sudden burst. www.aliengraphicsnow.com I’m excited about the prospects.
However, I realize that I’m where I need to be. God called Virginia home. God sent Ashya to me when I needed her. God has not let us go hungry, without shelter, and has kept our gas tanks full.
One Year Later, and I’m finally realizing what it means to let God be in control.
Regular readers of this blog are aware of the fact that two months ago my wife passed after an extended battle with breast cancer. I’ve been coping with the aftermath of her passing (paying off her debts, hospital bills, incurred expenses, etc.). While I’ve been doing this, I’ve also been back at work during one of the busiest points of the year.
Because I’m back at work I’m left with one day during the work week to get the 9-5 M-F stuff done. Yes my boss would gladly give me some extra time to accomplish these things, but I’m the ad man for a small town Iowa paper. I have deadlines to meet and if I don’t get my job done the paper has no advertising.
In the past two months, I have been coming to grips with the fact that my wife is not coming back home. She has been healed of pain and has finished her fight. As much as I’d like to pretend she’s away at a conference and will be coming back, she’s not going to walk through the door.
It’s tough. I don’t have anyone to snuggle up against at night. I don’t have anyone to sit listen to how good or bad my day at work was. Yes I’ve still got my boys at home, however there’s a very large difference between one’s partner and one’s offspring.
I’m only 43. I have to realize that PIT #2 is closer to leaving home than I care to admit. PIT #3 will be home for a while longer but eventually (despite his protests to the contrary) he’ll go off to college, find a girl, and settle down somewhere (hopefully) other than Daddy’s house. Even if both of my boys decide to attend local college and live at home during that time, they’ll still be gone before I’m 60. I’m not spending the rest of my life alone.
This brings me to the title of this post. I took stock of the number of (known) single women in my life. Including my writing partner and baby sister, I came up with five. As I said, one of those is my sister, that leaves four. My writing partner lives in California and has made it clear she’s not leaving the state of the Governator, down to three. One of these is a co-worker and good friend. Aside from the fact that she has a boyfriend moving to Iowa later this year, we are neither’s particular cup-of-tea. Two.
The other two are nice enough but after talking with both of them and going on a few dates, it’s quite clear that there is no future for me and either of them. One of them keeps bringing up a past boyfriend in EVERY conversation and makes it quite clear that he holds the strings to her heart. The other expressed an interest in pursuing a relationship but since that pronouncement, she has hooked up with not one, but two different guys. OK, I’m not stupid. I don’t need to have it spelled out for me. That leaves me at zero.
Now, I have a lot of meatspace acquaintances. They are all either married, children, or well past retirement age. In my social circle, aside from the previously mentioned women, there are no adult single females in my life. Four months ago that wasn’t a problem. It’s still not a problem but left untouched it will be.
I’m looking for some specific traits that the next Mrs. Nibbelink should have. She should share my faith. She should like children as my puppet team and volunteer work deal primarily with children. She should also understand my geek factor. I’m not saying she has to like the same movies, TV shows, gaming choices, or even like going to Renaissance Faires (those would be a nice bonus but the first two are the deal breakers).
So where do I go to find said person? The local bar? no not if the first two are my primary conditions? A singles club? possibly but there aren’t any locally and I still have my boys to look after. A church that shares my faith? well yes that’d be the first place to start looking.
Therein lies my problem. My current church has NO singles group. So I need to find a church that has what I’m looking for. I’ve been asking around, checking out local church websites and basically shopping for another church to attend.
Oh my. You’d think I announced the apocalypse. This is causing more furor than my looking into getting a tatoo. I’m getting lambasted from all sides for everything from disrespecting my wife’s memory to leaving a church home for no good reason to being in mourning long enough. *sigh*
To put it into the metaphor. Just because I’m trying to find the pond where the fish are does not mean I’m planning the fish fry for this weekend. I’m not ready to go window shopping yet, I just want to know where the mall is located. I’m not ready to start dating, but when I am I need to know where to go looking for single females that meet at least the first two conditions.
Gals, I’m not yet ready for any sort of a serious relationship as I’m still grieving my departed wife. I am lonely and I am looking to meet some new people.
Thanks for listening.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo. I realize that getting a permanent scar is not everyone’s cup of tea. I also understand that some might have moral or aesthetic objections to tattoos. However, this posting is not about the moral and/or philosophical implications of getting a permanent body decoration. It is, rather, a look at why I’m thinking of a tattoo and what I’m thinking of getting.
A tattoo is not something that I lightly contemplate. I am deathly afraid of needles. Don’t like ‘em, try to avoid them whenever possible. See, needles come in two sizes; the 5-inch small needles and the four-foot three-inch diameter large needles. To say that I don’t like needles is an understatement. Yes I know, that needles are what a professional tattoo artist uses to ply his trade. That has always been the deal-breaker for me in the past.
Flash forward to now. Virginia’s wish was to be cremated and have her ashes scattered on the wind. We actually used some of her ashes while planting a tree that was a gift from her best friend. For this reason, there is no memorial, no marker, nothing that says to the world Virginia was here.
I began thinking of what I could do for a memorial. I still want to donate some of the life insurance to cancer research but I have to finish paying off the bills before I do that. The P.I.T.s have suggested the Virginia Nibbelink Memorial Entertainment Center (basically a new HD Big Screen TV). I haven’t ruled that out but I’m not quite sure I want to spend quiet time thinking of my wife while the boys are playing video games.
The thought hit me that I could get a tattoo. A tattoo with Virginia’s name on it, something that would mean something to me. What design should I get? A pink ribbon with her name on it? possibly. But that’s almost cliché, I wanted something unique. I thought about getting a tattoo of her RPG character with the pink ribbon, but that seemed to be a tad excessive and would require wa-a-ay too much explanation to the casual observer.
Then it hit me. I’ll get a tat of a Klingon bat’leth sword with a pink ribbon encircling it. I’ll put Virginia’s name on the ribbon and underneath her life span. The sword would symbolize Virginia’s determination to defeat the cancer. I ran this idea past my kids and was given the thumbs up across the board.
I began to tell family and friends about this idea. My parents cautioned me on the fact that some folks that I deal with on a daily basis find tattoos offensive and I wouldn’t want to alienate those folks. After taking everything into account I decided that I’d go ahead and get a tattoo on my arm right where a short-sleeve shirt would cover it. That way it would a personal thing visible only to family and close friends.
My daughter’s best friend who has been helping the Nibbelink bachelors to survive without killing themselves, loved the idea and gave me $20 as a Father’s Day present. The bill was inscribed “Tattoo Fund”.
Honored by her simple act of generosity, I posted about her gift on Facebook. Oh my you’d think I had announced the apocalypse. No fewer than 13 people chimed in each telling me that it was either a good idea or telling me that I was going to hell for even thinking about getting a tattoo. One friend who shares similar religious beliefs almost ignited a flame war with his tongue-in-cheek comment (Hank I understood what you meant and we’re cool). Somebody else in his own unique way directed me to the attached flow-chart to help me make the decision (ironically the flow chart actually indicates that I should get the tattoo).
So here I sit. I have examined my own personal convictions and beliefs. I will be getting a discreet tattoo in honor of my wife.
I will post pictures of it when I get it.
I just wanted to let everyone know.
Graphic courtesy of The Daily Weekly
Last night I spent the evening writing out thank you cards to everyone who gave monetary gifts, flowers, cards, and gifts of time and services. We knocked off at 9:30 and we’re still not done. The fund started by Daniel Perez raised nearly $1,000. That money has come in very handy in paying off the bills that piled up during my many trips to and extended stays in Iowa City to be with my wife. My thanks goes out to the entire RPG community. Those of you who provided addresses with your donation will be getting a hard copy Thank You card.
We appreciate all the kind words, messages of support, and when folks started making baseless accusations, the stand of solidarity.
Virginia will be missed by those whose lives she touched. We’re slowly but surely getting back to a “normal” existence. I can’t say that I like the “new” normal, but it’s nice to know that this community that I am proud to be a part of has got my back.
Thank to all those who have made my life a little more bearable these past three weeks.
Pictured the Vulcan Stev family (Clockwise starting with the handsome character in the Jimmie Johnson jacket: PIT #2 Gerrit, Me, Virginia, Pvt Black Spartan Janae`, PIT #3 Chris).
The RPG community was absolutely fabulous in posting, tweeting, and reposting the news about Virginia’s hospitalization and death. Please pass this thank you around. I don’t want anyone to miss this.
Again, Thank You
The following was written by a friend of mine in honor of Virgina and the character she played. Please feel free to use the following in your Forgotten Realms campaigns. Please be aware that is written from the vantage point of the game and character. If RPGs are not your thing this tribute may not be for you.
From Queen C’Nedra the Queen of Light and Dark a decree has been ordered across the land of Faerie Cannon Cove that a holy temple be built to honor the memory of our fallen pixie faerie hero Wink. Wink did not fall in the throes of battle with our known enemies but was felled by an enemy that is not seen and very cruel. Many healers across the land in a tireless effort tried to heal brave Wink but alas the evil enemy won the battle. Lady C’Nedra approached the Faerie Elders and the Demi Gods of the land to ask to bestow this honor upon Wink to help her noble friends heal from the loss of their dear friend. Each member of her party has offered a piece of them to make this special memorial to their dear friend. The task of creating this special memorial to their dear friend was given to the Grand Mistress of Magic Nyissa Nimblefoot and the Grand Master Wizard Naxor. Into a cauldron will go a Ruinite robe by Lord Jango to honor Wink’s beautiful spirit inside and out. Sir Galahad is offering his +20 Holy Avenger to aid Wink’s spirit in detecting evil in the hearts of mortals and creatures. Lord Neferis in a selfless act of courage offers up his Tigers Eye Amulet of Return so that all members of this party can return to this place for healing. Grand Archer Riddlethump offers up his Valenwood Bow as a symbol of Wink’s strong unfailing spirit. Lady Rayne offers her Rod of Kenders as a symbol of Wink’s childlike carefree spirit. Lady Taikara offers up her Faerie Dust Bow as a symbol of Wink’s gracefulness. Lady Phadra offers up her Valenwood Armor as a symbol of Wink’s courage in the face of battle. Grand Wizard Hawryn offers up his Scroll of Truth Spell to aid Wink’s spirit in offering her mercies to those who seek them.
Princess Aria offers up her Trident of Power as a symbol of Wink’s friendships on land as well as in the seas. Grand Master Bard Alouicious offers up his Golden Harp as a symbol of the beautiful music that Wink would create on her flute. The Noble Dragons of this party offer their gift of the Eldunari, also known as the Heart of Hearts, as a symbol of this Grand Faerie Master’s knowledge of lore, magic and healing powers. Therefore the dragons’ spirits, knowledge, and magic will live forever. Now the cauldron is filled with these very special selfless gifts and now Grand Master Bob offers his gift to Wink. Bob offers his gift of the Super Nova to not only meld the gifts together but also as a symbol of Wink’s light spirit. With the help of Mistress Nyissa and Master Naxor a statue of a faerie is formed with the Heart of Hearts and the Amulet of Return as part of her alter. As a final gift Lord Nevets and the other priests in the Holy Choir offer up both a Lament of Sorrow and a powerful Anthem of Protection in honor of the love and friendship that Nevets shared with Wink for many years.
Wink’s spirit is now immortalized in a statue that will be placed inside the Temple of Tears, a building so regal and protected that no evil can destroy it. The statue itself has healing properties beyond all this world. The statue can only be activated by the specially chosen clerics and druids who are entrusted with the special chant to channel Wink’s spirit to the statue. These disciples of Tears are overseen by Navor who was specially chosen by Queen C’Nedra as overseer of the temple and protector of all who reside there. Wink’s spirit statue can cure any disease known to man or creature be it natural, evil or other unknown curse. Wink’s statue also has the ability to turn mortals and creatures from evil to good.
However, beware if Wink’s spirit detects evil intentions the victim will be doomed to walk the earth forever unless a good deed is done and Wink’s spirit chooses to show mercy on their poor soul.
The statue is set in a temple of marble accented with Ruinite. The statue is set in the middle with a small moat of clear water so that the creatures and merpeople of the water world can commune with Wink and receive her healing gifts. Above the temple entrance there is an hourglass with sand in the top and as it flows to the bottom of the glass it changes to tears and this is also the holy symbol of this temple that is worn by the disciples of Tears and all who have helped to create this temple. And now as her gift to the Grandest Faerie ever, Princess Gavriel offers her the gift of two Guardian Angels as keepers of the temple doors so that all those who shall pass will not forget who the Temple of Tears stands for. This has been decreed across the land and shall become known to all that Queen C’Nedra is recognized as the author of this law. May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand. Farewell my friend.
**Wink : Oct. 25, 1963- May 12, 2010
You may or may not have noticed a new feature that ran this week. The Destination Iowa article is going to be a regular summer feature (we haven’t decided if it’s going on past that or not as yet). My boss and I decided back in April that he would foot the cost for transportation of my family and I to and from various Iowa tourist destinations. I would then photograph the spot and write up an article for the paper (The Record: Serving Beaman, Conrad, Liscomb, Union, Whitten and Central Iowa). The idea behind this was two-fold: One I would get paid to take my family around on mini-vacations and Two I would spend as much time as possible with my family while still providing for them. This was desgined so that I could be with Virginia during what we knew to possibly be her last summer.
We were not expecting Virginia to pass before this assignment began.
Towards that end, with my boss’ permission and blessing I am sharing our adventures across Iowa this summer as written for The Record. This is my way of fulfilling one of Virginia’s last requests. She wanted these mini-vacations to be memories. I’m sharing these memories with you.
For those of you wondering why I’m posting this article under the RPG: News, Reviews and Culture, simply put you have been more than generous and this is one way I have of sharing Virginia with you. The second is that the next installment is one of Iowa’s two annual Renaissance Faires.
If you have already checked out the first installment, I urge you to check it again as I have now provided the links for the photo album of all the photos I shot in Pella.
As I write this it’s been less than a week since Virginia’s funeral. I’ve spent the week at work, mainly because I needed to get back and spending the time at home in an empty house does no one any good. In that time frame I have worked on putting Virginia’s affairs in order; paying bills, getting the death certificate, and dealing with the estate.
I have been accused of being responsible for her death, that my lack of attention and “caustic enviroment” caused her to pass so quickly. I have been accused of whining over her death “Too #%@&-ing much”. I’ve also been accused of using her death for personal financial gain.
To the first, I respond that the move to Holland was not a popular one with my immediate family. Virginia and I agreed at the time that it seemed like the right thing to do but were troubled over why we had to do it. Virginia, the family and I shared frustration over the circumstances of our situation, however never once did she accuse me of “Lording it over” the family. In her last week of life, Virginia came to the conclusion that one of God’s reasons for having us in Holland close to my family was for the support that I’d need after she passed.
To the second, when you’ve lost your spouse of 22 years then you can tell me if I’ve been whining too much.
To the third, I never asked for the Vulcan Stev solidarity fund. That was started by the RPG community completely of their own volition. The news paper added the line to her obituary about memorials can be directed to the family, that was not my doing. Am I thankful for the funds that have poured in? Yes! Are times going to be tough for me and the boys? Yes, we lost half of the family income. But I have asked for only one specific thing for financial help and that was after the specific request of the individual over what immediate financial help was needed. Aside from that I have NOT asked for money.
Money can not and will not replace what I’ve lost. Most of my tears have been in private. If there’s one recurring phrase I’ve been hearing from everyone else it is how much my wife and I truly loved each other…
The picture posted with this blog comes from one of my Facebook friends. Virginia lost a breast to the cancer. Did I stop loving her? no. I married Virginia not her boobs. Virginia lost her hair due to the radiation treatments. Did I stop loving her when her crowning glory vanished? no. I shaved my own head in solidarity. I loved and still love the person, not the shell that housed her.
When we received the diagnosis that Virginia had in fact developed breast cancer we were shocked but yet relieved. Breast cancer was “curable”. We were going to beat this. Looking back at the year and a half since that diagnosis it is more obvious to me now that the cancer was taking its toll on her body. She was tiring out more frequently. Things that had once been easy were no longer.
The thing is now that I know more about breast cancer, I realize now that my wife was at a higher risk. Back in the 80s Virginia’s doctor put her on birth control to help regulate a hormonal imbalance. She took those tablets right up until the time we started actively trying for a family. From what I’m reading the cancer that killed Virginia had been estrogen fed. Did those birth control pills contribute to Virginia’s cancer?
Virginia had always wanted to breast-feed her children. We determined early on when Janae was a baby that her left breast had some sort of defect the precluded milk production. Was this defect a cause of the cancer? We don’t know. It is my hope that whatever scientists and doctors are working on developing a cure for cancer will take these facts into consideration. Do not let my wife’s death be in vain.
It is my firm hope and daily prayer, that I am the last husband to lose his wife. My children the last to lose their mother. Mom and Dad Young the last parents to lose a daughter.
Once the bills have been payed and the children provided for, we will be taking a portion of Virginia’s life insurance and starting a fund for cancer awareness.
Don’t let cancer steal second base…. or anything else for that matter.
It will be a bittersweet day at best. Virginia loved game day. She had one character that she played no matter the game. Wink was our quiet little friend. Wink never fought any monsters. Wink never tangled with the bad guys. Wink never did anything but help us when we needed a point in the right direction and heal us when things took a turn for the worse.
Wink was very much an extension of my wife. Virginia enjoyed game day at the Lawton’s. She would wear her fairy wings and bring her homemade fairy wand to nearly every session. It’s not so much that she was an RPG nut like her husband and kids as much as she just loved spending time with her husband and kids. Virginia “enjoyed” playing RPGs as a family exercise. She really got into it. The costume is her own creation. We enjoyed having her there and she will be missed this Saturday (and all the other ones coming).
Last year we discovered the Iowa Renaissance Faire that is held in the Amana Colonies every Memorial Day. We decided on a lark to go see it before Janae’ went off to Basic. Virginia was still undergoing chemo for the breast cancer but she wanted to go to “make memories”. We had a blast. So much that we had plans to attend the Ren Faire in Des Moines over Labor Day (we didn’t because Virginia was not feeling up to it.) This year, again plans were made to attend the Ren Faire. Virginia had gone out and bought herself boots. I also discovered that Virginia had set aside some money to purchase a Renaissance costume this year.
I’ll admit that I am not much of an outdoors type. To me the outdoors is that necessary evil one is required to endure to get from building to building. However, the Ren Faire struck a chord with me. My beloved wife was actually looking forward to this year’s event. She absolutely enjoyed herself. We are going this year in her memory.
Why do these two things stick together in my mind when thinking about Virginia? When Virginia had something that she enjoyed doing she went all out. She enjoyed playing RPGs because her family enjoyed them and she went out of her way to fit in with that group. She enjoyed the Renaissance Faire, but enjoyed it more because her family enjoyed it as well. Virginia wanted to make sure that we would keep going to the Ren Faire. She didn’t want us to give up game day and we won’t. We will keep going to the Ren Faires in her honor.
Courtesy of The Record
Virginia W. Nibbelink, 46
Virginia Winona Nibbelink, 46, of Holland, was born to eternity on Wednesday, May 12 at Oakview Nursing Home and Care Center in Conrad, while under the care of Iowa Hospice from complications following breast cancer.
Services were held in Holland at New Hope Fellowship Church on May 16 with Pastors Gary Nibbelink, Ken LeHew and Darren Nibbelink presiding. Memorials may be directed to the family.
Virginia was born on Oct. 25, 1963 to Ronald and Joan (McIntyre) Young on KI Sawyer AFB in Sands Township, Mich. She married Steven Nibbelink on Jan. 21, 1989 in Mount Prospect, Ill.
She attended Evangel College in Springfield, Mo. and receiver her Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She also attended Central Bible College where she learned sign language. Virginia became certified by the state of Iowa and worked for Area 267 as an interpreter in several school districts including Waterloo, Aplington-Parkersburg and Cedar Falls.
She is survived by her husband Steve; daughter Janae of Aurora, Colo.; and sons Gerrit and Christopher, both of Holland; her parents Ron and Joan Young of Oscoda, Mich.; two brothers Samuel (Penny) Young of Lafayette, Calif. and Timothy Young of Grundy Center; and a sister Elizabeth (William) Parks of Parker, Colo.; parents-in-law Gary and JoAnne Nibbelink of Holland; sisters- and brothers-in-law Susan (Bill) Catron of Holland, Darren (Jennifer) Nibbelink of Ozark, Mo., Allison Siefken of Holland, Gary Siefken of Holland, and 13 nieces and nephews.
Preceding her in death were her maternal grandparents Duncan and Aileen McIntyre, and paternal grandparents Frank and Elsie Young along with her Opa and Oma, Godert and Grada Vander Hart, grandparents-in-law. Also surviving her is one RPG character that she played in EVERY game, Wink will be missed.
Memorials to can be directed to the family by following this link.
It’s 8:00 am Saturday morning. I don’t have anything in the queue. I do have posters picked out just not ready to be posted (unlike the canned ones from the previous 2 weeks). I should have stuff back up and running on a normal schedule sometime next week. For those of you who discovered the blog due to Virginia’s fight, you are welcome to stay. I will get our Iron Man review done soon.
I’m not sleeping well at night. There’s a great big empty space in the bed. I wake up whenever I nudge into Virginia’s half of the bed and she’s not there. The song “Sleeping Single in Double Bed” although half-remembered and certainly not about my circumstance springs unbidden from mind.
The dog is confused, he keeps looking for Virginia. In fact I know how the dog feels.
I’m picking up Virginia’s ashes today. The funeral is tomorrow.
If I didn’t have my kids around, I’d go stark raving loony.
Oh God, how am I going to survive without her?