Friday, April 29, 2016

We Come To a Time

The time has arrived to close the story of a long journey. The story of a life and the recording of the events that led to the end of a life. This last entry has perhaps a greater level of emotion than any of the others. It was always difficult to write these. We did so to keep people informed, with the secondary purpose of transmitting some of the emotion that was difficult to tell over and over to people that showed interest in the whole situation. It was mentioned to us not to close until the birth of our 4th grandchild and that happened on April 26th.

This part of this post was fun to write. Ross and Rumy are now proud parents of a nice little baby that is named Oliver James. This young man weighed 6 lbs and 12 oz and 20 inches long. He came out after Rumy worked about 1 ½ days to deliver him and he did so without the need for a “section”. I am told by Ross he looked around for a few seconds with a look of “what just happened”, then opened his mouth wide and let out one of the stronger cries that even trumpet players can behold. In short order he was placed in his mothers arms and soon settled in to enjoy his first day of life. It appears to me that this young man might be quite well dressed. The people in the church Ross and Rumy serve have seen to that. It looks to me that he might also be quite well protected in the car, might sleep well in the crib and might be warm in the blankets mostly due to the christian love shown by the people in that church.

So today we come to the time to close, and a beginning of a new chapter. The past documented by over 4 years of blogging and kept open for this chapter. The future perhaps picked up on some future writing not determined yet. All three of our children now have children. There is no doubt that Deb would have been proud to see this last one but as one friend suggested perhaps that is not so far out of the question. I had a special feeling as I saw this young man for the first time and with it a sense of her presence. No proof just a sense. And that was enough for me.

I did have the chance to review some of the writings. My daughter suggested over 4 years ago that we do this thing called a blog and I kind of knew what that was. As I read back a little it has about every human emotion that can be experienced. The repeated adjectives of love, care, endurance, pain, perseverance, all flow out of the writings no matter who wrote them. The experience of new life and a death are reported. The feelings of smiles and tears are reported. About every element of human emotion are held someplace in the 300 or so blog posts.

The feelings of loss are slowly and carefully being replaced by feelings of thanks and respect for a life well done. The feelings of thanks are coming through like a sun rising. The feelings of pride are there as they relate to a life lived with vigor and love. The witness of courage as death was imminent was the exclamation mark of facing the day that not one of us wishes to face but all of us must at some point do so.

Allow me to mention a few things I am thankful for and proud of. We designated Beacon Ministries and Hospice as causes for memorial. In each of these cases I am told that the gifts were just stunning and I thank all who helped with this. Deb's brother Jim worked very hard to give his sister the service she deserved (his funeral home provided the service). Deb's sister helped me with the tough parts of dealing with clothing and personal things and did so in a way that my home today keeps some of the memory but passes on many things that others can use Deb's sister in law Nancy helped us with so many things and never gave up in that help over this entire journey. Deb's brother Ken and wife Shelly, just last weekend planted new trees on the north property which will be available to the family for Christmas Trees in about seven years or so in his sisters memory. Gift from her parents aided with some of the financial demands that come with a long term disease.

Perhaps for me the most stunning thing is how Deb's friends stayed with the situation and helped. If life needs to close I can think of no other way that people could show care at a deeper level. It is hard to mention each one and I am still in the process of writing thank you notes but I will get them all done.

Somehow each day gets a little better for me. Slowly but surely the feeling and good memories outweigh the tears that come with an event such as this death. I never really knew what to do and how to report some things. It seemed to me that the events of this illness were always very serious but somehow she put a good of  face on it in public to the point that many would say “I can't see that much wrong". That was different at home many times. She was granted one year right in the middle of the whole thing of somewhat normal activities. She was able to cross off many things on a bucket list she made 4 years ago and able to purge through pain that at times went beyond words I can find.

This little Oliver guy has something I have not seen before. I almost seems to me he has kind of a sharp look in his eye. Sometimes babies have about a week before you know what they see. Perhaps what you are hearing here is just a proud grandpa that thinks Oliver sees something. But I want to use this thought to close the blog.

Deb always had a sharp look in her eye. A keen eye and heart for a friend, a keen ear for music, a keen sense for family, a keen sense of a bargain, a keen love for people that needed love. It never really came out that much at the end but along with the above came a pretty strong sense of humor. Rooted inside of all of this was a zest for life that had a contagious quality. And that is how the Diary of Deb must now come to a close. Thank you all for following along. We could always feel the love and the prayers. They were a gift from God.

Here are a few pictures of Oliver James.
Oliver James Hoksbergen- April 26- 6 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches
Ross and Oliver post birth-here we go!

Stan drove in all the way from Michigan!

Rumyana is MUCH happier now than a day ago, especially with Great Grandma nearby

Great Grandma Shirley and a biiig yawn! you worked hard little guy, put your feet up for a while!

Ok Dad, is this what you meant!?

I think I'll just take a nap right here, ok Mom?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A personal reflection from Stan

I want to write to all of you guys.I am in the process of writing many thank you notes and I am almost finished and will put them in the mail.  One of the problems when you are married to Deb is that many thank you notes are going to be in the the picture. Frankly though this has provided for me some therapy and instead of a chore it has been a joy.

Like I said last time I am going to close down this blog, but a good friend suggested I not do so until Ross and Rumy have their baby. So I am going to keep this open till that date and hopefully put up a post of joy when that day happens.

I was honored by the many friends and relatives that took the time to come to the visitation and the funeral. I was also thankful that my children could participate in the service.  I listened to the service on the Beechwood Live Feed and I thought that Deb would feel honor in the words and somehow that is important to me right now.

I have never been sure how one would feel after a loss like this.  I must tell you that the last couple of weeks of her life were perhaps the toughest times I will ever witness.  But it was also a witness to courage in it highest form.  So someplace in that is a lesson. Can I also tell you an emotion? Of all the things that were hard about this, the hardest thing for me is the thought of her body laying in the cold ground. I know that is kind of a dumb thought and I am aware that that the soul now passes to another place, but somehow this has still been hard for me.

My kids gave me a good suggestion. I have a little dog now.  I paid a few bucks for this dog but so far it has been worth it. I named it Minnie.  If it was a male I was going to name it Stan because I have been worried they were going to retire my name, but instead I named it Minnie which is the name of one of my grandmothers.  In fact looking at this dog it resembles her somewhat.

I am somewhat puzzled by dogs.   I have been watching this dog pretty close and I let it out often. The other day I let it out and it walked in to the house and pooped right when it came in.  I sat the dog down and we both looked over the evidence and I explained that this could not happen again.  So far this method of training is working. There have been no more mistakes.

Thank you all once again for your love and care.  I am doing OK.   I am overwhelmed by the thought and care all of our friends have shown.  You are fine people.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

2nd to last Post

Stan here:

Sad to say that it is time to close down this blog. Several people at the service asked if this poem could be on the blog so following is that poem.   In  a day or so I am going to post one more time with some reflection and thank you's.  Even though  very sad, our family learned a lot through this entire journey and I thought after this I might pass on a few thoughts that may be of help in the event that any of you are called on to face events like this of similar nature.

A poem for this Day and Something I want to Say.

It was about 44 years ago that a ship started to sail
In the hold were a few cents and a desire to never fail
On the mast was a man in a basket with a telescope
All relationships should start with this level of hope

A wedding, a party, and soon the study of nursing
A test, a quest and medical issues rehearsing
A passage to adult life and the pursuit of a medical careers
A bill or two from the Harper School that left us in arrears
A love for the piano and the ability to make it ring
A happy smile when she could hear that ring and sing

Of every note she sang and played over all her 60 years
Of every trip she took to far corners with no fears
Of every friend she met that were captured by her smile
Of every time she had to hold her happiness if even for a while
Of every time she played a sport like golfing with her dad
Of every time she told me she that her dad made her glad

In this regard a shift to a honoring her father and her mother
In so doing a deep feeling for her sister and two brothers
In fact to tell the truth a love for most all people she met
In so doing a return feeling from them, no lie, good bet
Kinda happens to all who hold high the right values in life
Kinda helps to always worship and hold high the virtues of a fine wife.

When life starts together you never sense a dark spot on the lens
At this juncture I must share something with all of our friends
Trouble entered our scene some 35 years ago
Full term infant deaths, pain deeper than you can know.
The telescope of life though, remained focused on the hope
That her future held a within its boundary the power of her hope

That has included the birth of two boys and a daughter
Gathered in to her arms as a gift her God brought her
Treasured in a way that was enhanced by the trouble
And followed by a love that I think was at least double.

In 2012 on a trip to a reunion
A moment occurred that caused great confusion.
"Something is wrong with my dress it does not fit
I have pain when I stand I have pain when I sit."

And so started a journey of courage and endurance
A life that was guided by the Lords assurance
A life that was blessed with 4 years of making each day right
A life that was witness to how to live a really strong fight.

A ship now arrives at an undesired destination
A family now tries to find some explanation
A thinker knows though of something that can be sure.
A God we serve in the end will make it pure

Let us all go forth with this level of hope
Let this life show large in every telescope.
Let it bask in the glow of new found eternity

Let us be assured of this with God granted certainty 

I must share with you that this poem was hard for me to read at the funeral.  But it was not near as hard to read it to you guys as it was to Deb several weeks ago. It was the first time however that she said I could read it without chopping out a verse someplace.  She was honored by it and that was important to me.  


Monday, February 22, 2016


Following is Debbie's obituary and details of arrangements. This was kind of hard to write, as the reality sets in...

Debra Jean Hoksbergen was born on June 28, 1955. Her life ended on February 21, 2016. While the end of her life was very difficult, she can be honored and remembered in countless joyful ways. Her life was complemented by the gifts God granted to her, and she used those blessings to live life to the fullest.

From an early age, she enjoyed the gift of music and spent countless hours playing the piano with a passion that rang to the heavens. Her family and friends were at the core of her life and she enjoyed them all. Deb cared deeply for the people she knew by extending a hand of welcome, evaluating cuts or a possible broken arm, and wrapping arms around you during hard times. She enjoyed her nursing career and provided care over many years in surgery, neonatal, labor and delivery, endoscopy, and birthing classes. Deb's incredible work ethic was evident whether caring for patients or completing any project with which she was involved.

She had a deep love for her husband and children, her parents and siblings, and for all people she encountered in life. Many years ago Deb had to endure the loss of three infants. Jason Brandon, Megan Leigh, and Grant, who were born with Potter’s Syndrome and died shortly after birth. So the treasure of life took on special meaning when we were blessed with 3 healthy and thriving children.

Dear wife of 41 years to Stan. Loving Mom of Ross (Rumy), Alden (Mary) and Mieke (Aaron) Mutschler. Proud Grandma of Ainsley and George Hoksbergen, Lorelei Mutschler and number four, a grandson soon to be born to Ross and Rumy. Deb had a deep desire to meet this little one, but will now get to witness this from heaven.

Beloved daughter of Jim and Sylvia Vermeulen and daughter in law of Shirley Hoksbergen. Cherished sister of Krista (Tim) Schaafsma, Jim (Nancy) Vermeulen, and Ken (Shelly) Vermeulen.

Deb had a special smile. As her family and friends viewed this smile, they could sense a love that transcends any words.

After the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Deb battled 4 1/2 years in which she had the deepest level of pain but the highest level of perseverance.

God takes home a soul, the world loses a friend, the husband loses a love, the children lose a mother and the grandchildren lose a mentor. However, we all gained the gift of a person that was special in so many ways.

To celebrate the gift of Deb's life, a service will be held at Beechwood Church, 895 Ottawa Beach Rd. Holland, MI 49424 at 11 AM on Saturday, February 27. Visitation will also be at Beechwood on Friday from 3-5 PM and 6-9 PM.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Holland, 270 Hoover Blvd., Holland, MI 49423, or Beacon Ministries c/o Beechwood Church, (Deb helped co-found this organization, which provides free baby items to local migrant families).

To share a memory please visit

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Journey is the Destination

Stan Here:

At around 2 AM on Sunday morning Deb peacefully passed away.  After spending 24 hours in a very quiet non-movement state she had a brief time at around 10:30 of being able to open her eyes and we were able to communicate  for the last time.  This was not in verbal form. Instead a light smile, a few tears and some idea that the words we said to her were reaching her. It was evident as Saturday went on that it was likely the end of life.  A different breathing pattern and some other signs that life could not be able to continue for much more than a day.

After resting all day Saturday, the end came in a very peaceful way. Mieke decided to stay overnight and was sleeping, holding Lorelei, next to Deb. She woke up around 2am and noticed her hand moving slightly and slow breathing. A few moments later, she was no longer breathing.  There was no final struggle and a very peaceful look on her face even after her death.  I will post again soon with arrangements but one thing I do know is that her service will be at Beechwood Church next Saturday at 11AM.

Friday, February 19, 2016

294 is the score

Stan Here:

These blog things somehow keep score.  I think some people write blogs and somehow advertise on them.  So built in to the program they have some stats and a moment ago I looked at that.  I was interesting to me that the one I am writing now is the 294th time we have posted something on the blog and we tried to never do so unless something had changed.  I did count up the other day the total number of hospital days and that is 149.  There have been 9 pretty major surgical procedures.  Mixed in between have been some pretty good days, a few trips, some days of little or no pain, 3 grandchildren and a 4th on the way.  It was really hard the other day when Hospice came here and it took three of us to get Deb from a chair to her bed.  I asked the Hospice nurse later if I had just seen the last steps and she shook her head up and down.

I must tell you an amazing story.  The trips from the bed to the chair were getting more difficult by the day. Pretty much a walker and a person on each side to assist.  2 nights ago I slept on the couch in case anything was needed by Deb who sleeps in the living room on a hospital bed. I woke up around 3 and she was sitting in the chair and had done so unassisted.  I asked how she had reached the chair and she had no recall of the trip.   Hospice uses a term and it is called "terminal restlessness". I am told that they have had it happen when patients who are 90 years old and have not been out of bed for 6 months have been found at the end of a hall a long way from their room.

The latest around here is that each day we witness a declining condition.  This morning we had a pain pump installed that will control the pain but it will make it so that Deb is not able to respond all that much.  We had to do so because the pain and the restlessness had reached a point of even the slightest touch or bed adjustment leaving her calling out in pain.  Deb has not had any food now for 2 days and with the medication level now she will not eat, nor has any desire to eat.  She is able to open her eyes at times but not able to express much what we can do for her. Her parents came to see her today but even that was kind of hard as she just is not able to express the normal emotions that come with human life.

So  number 294 has to exist as a good score in bowling only, but very hard and sad to write.  Folks, it is just tough to watch. I am starting to understand that many of you have experienced something like this with a parent or spouse.  Forever I will have a deeper understanding of all who have needed to endure something like this.

Thanks for staying with us.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Just the Facts

Stan Here:

When I was  kid I used to watch a show by the name of Dragnet. One of the characters was a guy by the name of Joe Friday and as he was was investigating the cases he would often say "just the facts maam." So this report has just that. They are kind of blunt but they are the facts.

Going back several days Deb had a fine weekend of being alert, with her children and grandchildren, with visitors, and moments where the quality of life returned in a good way.  Tuesday morning it was evident though that a strong decline in condition had taken place.  This was evidenced by increases in the pain, some levels of confusion, a change in color and alertness and all of the rest of the stuff that points to a decline in condition.  On Wednesday things  reached the point where I called Hospice and when the nurse arrived and the vitals and signals indicated that action was required on several fronts
Blood pressure was down to 80/60 and blood oxygen counts were down.  They brought in a oxygen machine to help with that. They changed some of the pain meds and they had a meeting with us to let us know that it was clear that the final stages of life would be experienced in a short time.

Deb's sister is here today to help with the care but Hospice encouraged me to have no other visits so that Deb could attempt to have the changes in treatments reach the point of being of being more lucid and have a few days in the future better than the ones of late.  Presently we are struggling. No other way to put it.

And those are just the facts.