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Memories of Virginia: Obituary

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.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Memories of Virginia, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , | 5 Comments

What do I do now?

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?

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Memories of Virginia, Vulcan Stev Family Journey | , , | 8 Comments

Memories of Virgina

I remember about twenty-five years ago, I walked into the student union at Central Bible College.  My dad was inside with his study group (I was a senior in High School).  Dad introduced me to his classmates.  My attention was drawn to the striking redhead.  I wasn’t paying a lick of attention to my Dad at that point.  I was just wishing I had caught her name.

I remember about three weeks later, I found her working at the shoe store at the local mall.  It was near closing time so I went over and began talking with her.  I introduced myself and was delighted to discover that she remembered me.  I was even more delighted when she admitted that her car was broken and she needed a ride home.

I remember that Thanksgiving when I invited her to my family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner as she wasn’t going to have the time to go home to her family for the holiday.  She demurred saying she had nothing to bring.  I insisted.  She got a chocolate pie from her landlady.  I remember my younger siblings falling in love with Virgina because of her cooking skills.

I remember Virginia’s recollection of the day.  My family is blessed with natural volume to our voices.  Time with my side of the family can be a noisy rambunctious affair.  Virginia recounted to me that her landlady asked how the dinner went.  Virginia replied that she never wanted to marry into a LIKE mine.  I smiled at her admitting this to me after we’d been married and told her she didn’t marry into a family LIKE mine she married into my family.  She smiled back and said shed’ put up with my family’s noise if it meant she got to keep me.

I remember Valentine’s Day 1988 when she had invited me to Chicago to apply for a job where she worked.  I remember the bear hug I got from her when she met me at the Greyhound bus terminal in downtown Chicago.  I remember “Cupid’s Arrow” (her words not mine) striking that weekend.

I wish I could say that I have years and years of good memories about Virginia.  Unfortunately a head injury in the summer of ’97 has robbed me of many of them.  Memories come and go.  Memories have been altered.  I only post here what memories have been confirmed by others.

The Cancer Crisis is over.  I will begin chronicling my journey coping without Virginia and raising my boys.  I will continue posting memories about my wife and share them with you.  I have not stopped writing other posts and will continue those as well.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Memories of Virginia | , , , | 8 Comments

Cancer Crisis: Her Journey is Over… and ours has just begun.

Good Morning World.  It is 11:00 am Wednesday May 12.  I wake up this morning as a single father.  I am simply overwhelmed by the support, love, and friendship… (how do you translate tears all over the keyboard and screen?)

Virginia took her last breath at 1:2o this morning.  I stayed around doing the normal paperwork shuffle until about 3:15 this morning.  I got home at about 3:45 and shut off the phone, the alarms and went to bed.  I woke this morning to a very wet pillow and an empty bed.

Virginia’s folks and sister made it to Iowa in time to see her.  Pvt Black Spartan (Janae) made it home in time to see Mommy.  We had a ad-hoc family reunion in Virginia’s hospice room as we all shared stories of our favorite Virginia memories.

The family (especially PIT #3) started to get tired about 10:30.  11:00 I wrote the “Counting down the hours” post and read each of the 113 e-mails.  I hope everyone will forgive me for not replying personally. 😎

Pastor Ken of my church and Pastor Troy (not my Pastor but I’ve worked with him on a number of occasions) sat with me and talked from 11:00 – 12:30.  I shared with them stories of Virginia and I.  We watched Virginia’s breathing get shallower and further apart as I held her hand.  Pastor Troy left at 12:30 and Pastor Ken sat with me.

At 1:20 this morning Virginia breathed her last.  My wife is now healed.  Praise God!  The shell she lived in on this earth is at rest.

I’ll probably be saying this a lot in the next few days.  THANK YOU!  I don’t remember who started it but the Vulcan Stev family fund is appreciated.  I never would have asked, but I’m man enough to admit we need it and I certainly won’t turn down the assistance.  Posting the link here seems a little self-serving to me (besides in all honesty I’m not sure I remember who started it or what the link is)  Again thank you.

Virginia Nibbelink is at peace.  She has fought the good fight.  She has finished her race.  The Cancer Crisis is over.

Right now plans are for her memorial service to be held Sunday morning at New Hope Fellowship in Holland, Iowa.  You are all certainly welcome to attend.

I plan to write up a post (when I’m feeling more articulate) about what Virginia meant/means to me.

I have had a number of folks tell me that my posts about the battle have been a source of inspiration (Berin, I think I understand a little how you feel).  Towards that end, I will also probably blog about how the family is coping with the transition.  I figure if what I wrote has helped folks going through similar experiences with cancer then what I write might help folks who have lost someone.

I apologize if this has been rambling.  I’m still coming to grips with the fact that Virginia isn’t coming back to this house.  She has gone home.

Virginia Nibbelink b. October 25, 1963.  Born into Eternity May 12, 2010.  Godspeed my love

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight, Vulcan Stev | , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Cancer Crisis: 5:30 am at the UIHC

I hope folks will forgive me for this as this post is only tangentially about Virginia and her cancer.  It’s still dark outside as I begin this.  Virginia is sleeping right now.  Her breathing is heavy and a trifle labored.  She is hugging tightly the most recent acquisition to her stuffed critter collection, a large green frog holding a heart that says “Kiss Me”.  I’m awake answering e-mails, thinking, and praying

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail and phone calls.  The words of encouragement are, well, encouraging.  Some of the e-mails have asked me blunt questions, one in particular asked “How could I still post those Demotivational Posters during this time?”

My answer to that is that I’ve got to do something to keep the smiles coming.

One e-mail from an online buddy struck a chord.  I won’t re-post his e-mail because he revealed some personal information that I assume is for my eyes alone.  As I read through my response to him, I realized that it very nicely summed up how I was currently coping with the whole situation.  S.L. I wrote this to you but I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with everyone…

At 43 years of age I have seen careless death, needless death, folks who have spent years in pain wishing they could die, and more senseless tragedy than I really care to.  I’ve lost both sets of grandparents.  Virginia and I have had a miscarriage.  I also lost a cousin when he was 10 due to drowning.

I have also seen pregnancy where the doctors said it couldn’t be done.  I’ve personally witnessed miracles of healing that defy common wisdom (I wish cell phone cameras had been invented the day I witnessed of boy with a serious birth defect grow his face back in front of the entire church).

My faith has always carried me through the toughest parts of my life.  I’ve been told by many people that my faith is a crutch.  That may be true, but then everyone has a crutch of some sort.  I just happen to replenish mine at church instead of the liquor store.  Please be aware that in no way am I representing those as the only two options and am by no means placing you or anyone else in a category. 😎

Yes, my faith tells me that someday after she passes from this life, I WILL see Virginia again.  I will see my grandparents.  I will see the child who never even had a chance.  I will see my still-born sister.  I do believe that the human soul is an eternal creature and will spend eternity in one of two places.  However Virginia’s eternal soul will not help me feed the boys.  She will not help in keeping the house clean.  Once she’s gone, I’m faced with some things on this plane of existence that truly scare me.  We are barely making ends meet with both of us working.  PIT #3 is only 11 years old, he’s not taking the whole “Mommy is going to heaven” thing very well.

Even though my faith gives me comfort and hope it does nothing to change some of the very real problems I’ll be facing once Virginia has left her cancer ridden shell.

Why does God allow things like this to happen?  Why is a young mother torn from the embrace of her husband and children?  Why does $h!t happen, God?  Believe me, even though I have my faith I still ask these questions.  They’re not easy to answer and folks who have asked these questions are faced with two choices; one to abandon that faith or two to accept that there is more to this existence and that we as humans do not comprehend everything.

We have never met face-to-face but I do number you among my friends.  If your conclusions about life, the universe, and everything are correct then my faith costs me nothing and provides me comfort in the time of a serious crisis.  If my conclusions about what’s going on are correct then again I have lost nothing but have gained something in the long run.

When I wrote that I was scared about the future, I may have unintentionally given the wrong impression of my thoughts regarding what will happen after Virgina has passed from this life to the next.  Yes, I am scared.  However, it is not the scared-out-of-my-wits-unable-to-do-anything-but-piss-my-pants sort of fear.  It’s the type of fear I had as a child, the “Daddy the thunderstorm is really scary is it going to get us?  No Steve, we’re safe inside the house.  C’mere, Daddy has a hug for you” fear.  I’m still scared but my faith tells me something larger than I has things under control.  I don’t see the whole picture.  I don’t know the reasons for “WHY?”.  But Daddy did and I believe that God does.

Science does not have all the answers.  Science cannot explain that spark of life.  Science cannot explain everything.  Every scientific FACT out there has yet to disprove God.  Scientific THEORIES abound that try to explain things that science cannot test for.  The thing is that faith does NOT require proof.  I believe that God exists.  I believe that He is in control of a larger plan that I do not understand.  This plan requires that my wife have cancer.  The future is not set, she may recover, she may not.  I do not know what the future has in store.

Pain is temporary, pain is something we have to endure here.  When Virginia leaves us she will leave the pain behind.  Someone will still have to feel it.  We live in an imperfect universe.  I will happily share my faith you if you ask.  I hope am not now and will not ever be seen as shoving it in front of you.

To answer your implied question, What is Truth?  Is it what the doctors tell us?  Is it what Televangelists tell us?  Is it what the Media spoons out to us in carefully measured sound-bites?  No, Truth is something that each individual must find for themselves.  There are guideposts for that journey.

…..

That in a nutshell (ok a very large nutshell) sums up why I am both afraid and unconcerned about the future.

To this I add that I do not make friends easily.  Once made, I do not give them up easily either.  I have been disappointed many time by people who claimed to be my friends.  When I say that someone is my friend please be aware that this is not a title I bestow lightly nor is it a title I take for granted.

I’m not going to apologize for sharing my faith in this post.  If it offends you, it offends you.  I do not claim that I have discovered THE TRUTH, only that I believe that I have.  Truth is a personally journey for everyone.  I cannot make your choices for you.  I can only give you a glimpse of my journey and hope and pray that it helps you along yours.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , | 13 Comments

Cancer Crisis: Spending the night at the UIHC

Tuesday May 4, Virginia and I both took off early from work to transport her to Iowa City.  We had the three-week follow-up after her first round of Xelota, a chemo pill.  The appointment was scheduled for 2:30.  We arrived at 2:00 pm and Virginia was taken to the lab area for some blood work.

We waited until almost 3:00 before we were called back to talk with Dr. R.  Almost as soon as she entered the exam room she expressed concern over Virginia’s fluctuating temperatures and uneven white cell blood count.   Dr. R. wonders if Virginia has an infection of some sort.  The cause for concern is that if ‘Gin starts the next round of Xelota, her body’s immune system will be compromised and unable to fight off the infection.  Dr. R. admitted Virginia yesterday afternoon to run some tests.  She wants to determine the cause of the fluctuating temp and white blood cell count before starting the next round of chemo.

This caught us completely by surprise.  We were expecting to be heading home no later than 5:00.  Suddenly we’re scrambling to make contingency plans to get the kids fed, cars picked up, work called, relatives notified….  I finally left UIHC at about 6:30 and after retrieving the T-Bird made it home about 10:00 pm.

Yesterday after I left, the doctors ran a chest x-ray, conducted lots of blood work and took an MRI of Gin’s head.  Right now we are waiting on an ultrasound of the liver.  Last word was that the white blood cell count was high, protein levels were low, and sodium levels are low.

Dr. R. and Dr. H.(the resident)  just stepped in.  The MRI preliminary result came back clear.  The chest x-ray came back clear.  Dr. R. is thinking that depending on the results of the liver ultrasound, we should be able to head home today.

We’re upping the dose of the Xelota and Dr. R. thinks Gin should be able to finish off the school year.

More later.

May 5, 2010 Posted by | Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Crisis: A New Hope

Yesterday, Virginia went to a see Naturopath.  She spent two hours with the doctor while he poked and prodded and asked her questions.  I’m getting this all second-hand as I was not there during the visit, my sister Allison went with her instead.

Anyway, after much poking and prodding and discussing, the doctor informed Virginia that he thought he could have her completely free from cancer in 120 days.  That is of course if she follows a VERY restrictive diet.  I read over the list of DO NOTs.  It looks like our normal shopping list.

I’ll admit to being just a tad skeptical about the claim.  If the doctor can do what he says, then why are so many Americans dying from cancer.  The doctor’s response to this is most Americans don’t want to eat healthy also health insurance does not cover preventive care.  Also the pharmaceutical industry cannot copyright and trademark natural food.

The implicit accusation is that the American food industry could care less what you eat as long as it’s stuff they’ve processed to heck and back.  The health/pharmaceutical industry doesn’t care what you eat as long as it makes you sick and sends you to them for treatment.

Virginia, had already been eating healthier before the appointment.  I’ve noticed more energy and stamina on her part.  So perhaps there’s something to the doctor’s claims.  Only time will tell.

We’ve got the normal appointment scheduled for Tuesday.  I’ll let Virginia add her two cents in the comments as she feels up to it.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cancer Crisis: Maybe Encouraging News, Maybe Not

Today we got the results of the most recent urinalysis and a liver function test.

The urinalysis is showing traces of blood in the urine.  The liver function test shows two functions up and one function down (whatever the heck that means).  The alkaline level in Gin’s test is on the rise.  According to my sister the nursed that is good news.

Again all we got today was the most recent urinalysis and liver function tests.  According to Gin, the nurse who read the results to her did not seem overly pleased with the information.  They wanted to schedule an appointment to see the doctor this week.  It was determined that we could wait until Tuesday’s Iowa City appointment.

According to my sister the nurse, the results are a positive indication that the health food diet is working.

Virginia’s stamina is slowly declining.  Her mental outlook seems to depend a lot on her energy level.

More news as it developes.

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , | 1 Comment

Cancer Crisis: So Doctor, what exactly is causing this?

I’m sorry I didn’t get this posted yesterday, but we had friends stop by to help us with some house cleaning.  It’s kind of difficult to sit on one’s butt whilst others are cleaning your house.

We got the results of the X-Ray and the urinalysis.  Both came back clear.  This means that there is no infection causing her temperature spikes.  According to what I’ve been able to piece together by what Dr. S. is NOT saying this is not a good thing.  It means to sole cause of Virginia’s temp spikes is the cancer-infested liver.

As long as the spikes do not go above 100.4 we’re stuck until the next appointment for some answers.

Next Doctor appointments: April 30 – Naturopath, May 4 – Dr. R in Iowa City

April 25, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mrs. Vulcan Stev’s Fight: I am a cancer survivor!

Sorry, this status report is so long in coming. I have been struggling with making myself sit down to write. Writing is not a favorite activity of mine, so its really no surprise that my kids don’t like to write either.
 
I have been back to work interpreting in the schools since the beginning of the school year. God has again placed me in the best situation possible with work. I am at the elementary level this year with one student. She has a deaf ed teacher there part of the day, so I am not signing all day long. I do get a break.
 
As many of you know I finished Chemo at the end of August, started radiation treatments mid-September, finished those the beginnig of November, then had my port removed. I was told that the weeks following radiation treatment would be the worst as far as fatigue. They weren’t kidding! I physically wiped out over Thanksgiving.
 
I took December slow and easy. I cut out a lot of things I normally do for the holidays. I got on to facebook to relax and not over exert myself. My counselor is glad I have taken time for myself to relax. I, however, struggle with the things that don’t get done.
 
I like my husband’s comment on facebook as to how I am. Physically every thing is checking out fine. Emotionally is a bit slower.
 
Especially hard for me is dealing with financial issues. I really don’t want to face them, but I know it is inevitable.
 
I unexpectedly had an emotionally topsy turvy time with my check-up at the Breast Care Center. Recently I have felt more down, I’m wondering if I have missed some doses of my meds.
 
My car issues I hope are soon over. I have purchased my dad’s car. After some repairs it should be a good car.
 
Winter has been rough on my right shoulder that tends to go out of place. Shoveling has been no help at all. Praise the Lord the temperatures are finally going up and melting the snow.
 
Have a wonderful March!
‘Gin

March 9, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , | Leave a comment