As I was reading the notes I was given on Frederick Schumacher and his wife, Anna Richard Schumacher, I read that they lost their home to a fire in 1956. I can’t imagine losing your home and all of your precious memories in a fire, and yet it does happen. I don’t know what memories Fred and Anna lost, but my guess is that it included photographs of their babies as they grew up. Those are things that are so hard to get back. All you can do is hope that someone among your friends and family members has pictures they can share with you. I’m sure it was such a shock…everything was gone…in an instant. All you had left was your family and the clothes on your back…and you were grateful. How could you feel gratitude after such a devastating loss? Of course, it is because your family had survived, and in reality, everything else is just stuff. Nevertheless, as time goes by, you begin to realize that you really lost a lot that dreadful day. It’s no wonder you seem to be having a hard time getting past it. I have to wonder if sleeping at night is difficult, because you feel a deep need to be on your guard. Still, you have to move forward for your family.
A fire affects everyone in the family…even grown children who have homes of their own. When fire destroyed my Uncle Jim Wolfe’s home on Wolfe Mountain outside of Newport, Washington, there was no way to get help up there in time. The road is just too rough and the area too remote to get fire trucks up there, so when Uncle Jim’s home caught fire, the only thing they could do was to try to save what they could…and it was not much. All of the memories were lost…pictures, keepsakes from my Aunt Ruth’s life, all of the pictures of the childhood days of my cousins, as well as all of Uncle Jim’s items for day to day living. Before long, Uncle Jim needed to move into a nursing home where he could get 24 hour care for his Alzheimer’s Disease. For my cousin, Shirley it was like losing one more of her precious memories…having her dad living just down the road from her. Her mother, my Aunt Ruth had passed away, in 1992, and this was just one more blow to Shirley.
Fires destroy the dreams, as well as the memories, of those who have an unfortunate encounter with them. For my cousin, Shirley, it has meant trying to find friends and family who might have childhood pictures that they could copy for her. We have been searching for pictures, but have not found a whole lot for her. I am still hopeful that someday we will stumble across a huge cache of pictures that will fill all the memory holes in her life right now. It is amazing to me that in this day and age, we are still unable to save some homes from fire. It’s not so much a remote home, like my Uncle Jim’s, but even homes in town, are completely destroyed be fire. Still there are factors like how long it took to report, and what type of fire it was that can affect the ability to save it too. Whatever the reason, dreams and memories are lost in the twinkling of an eye, and they are really hard to get back.