Not even 60
George took the call from Reiner this afternoon.
We met Nina Fink in In the summer of 1994. Out in one of the small towns near Heidelberg at a Fest and there was a group of spinners. One of them was Nina. She reached out to this fairly lost American and made me feel welcome in the local spinning guild. Over the next several years she and I got to know each other better at various spinning demonstrations and Spinntreff. Our families got together for various picnics and other events. My eldest has been good friends with their eldest for years and we have known their youngest since birth. George and Reiner have collaborated on some projects.
Since they live off the end of the earth (train or car to Eberbach then head up into the Odenwald till you feel like you have traveled back decades. The old house in which they live used to be a guesthouse complete with hof, barn/stables/carriage house and a huge room for parties. The place was packed on her 40th birthday (14? 15? years ago).
What with the distance and my retirement, the last time we physically saw each other was at our home in May 2011 (Been there, Done with That party).
Apparently she started feeling ill and developed what is often called “the dwindles” about six months ago. Repeated doctor visits didn’t come up with a cause. But Nina was her own person as well; German by birth she became an Australian citizen when they lived there 25 years ago. Didn’t matter to her what the local Amt had to say when she returned about residency permits and the like. Aussie she had decided to be, and Aussie she was. So you might say a bit stubborn. She turned down the advanced diagnostics offered.
Last Thursday, 7 Feb, she took a sudden turn for the worse and went the “stop breathing, ambulance, resuscitation, hospital, intensive care” route but nothing worked.
Reiner called tonight to tell us. It turned out to be disseminated cancer. There will be a memorial service in about a week.
Bright, funny and extremely capable, her loss will be felt not just by her family but all the rest of us who knew her. One of those people who helped without question and rarely asked for much of anything in return. Saying someone was a good mother, goat herder, spinner and baker might not be impressive to many in this day and age but it made a difference to her husband and children.
Besides feeling the hole that is there, I acknowledge my share of anger. At myself for not staying in closer touch since we always think we have all the time in the world. And at Nina for not being willing to find out what was wrong in the face of increasing physical illness. She might not have chosen to live her life any differently, but her family would have had time to come to terms with a future empty of her.
George and I looked at each other. We will do what we can for both Reiner and Timmy over the coming months. We also made the commitment to each other to “knock you over the head and drag you in by the hair (long, short, doesn’t matter)” if either of us gets ill. I am a believer in knowledge as a way to exercise what little control one has in this life. Denial and avoidance generally don’t have any better result than having information and can limit choices.
I can’t die in my mid-50s – I am already well past that. Losing friends younger than me? Just should not happen…….