My cousin, Shirley Cameron is what can only be call a Modern Pioneer Woman. Not many people were living off the grid when she and her parents and brother moved to their mountain top in Washington state. They built 3 cabins. Her brother later moved to town, but her parents, Ruth and Jim, lived there for the rest of Ruth’s life and until fire destroyed their cabin, and Jim, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease had to be moved to a nursing home, where he lived out the remainder of his days. That left Shirley and her husband Shorty, and their grandson Tyrel living off the grid on the top of Wolfe Mountain.
After Shorty’s passing, in 2016, Shirley and Tyrel live up there alone. Oh they have neighbors, down the mountain, and Tyrel’s mom lives not too far away, but in town. Shirley and Tyrell just like living in the wilderness far from civilization. I really don’t think Shirley will ever leave her mountain. The views up there are breathtaking, and she gets to see lots of wild animals. Nevertheless, winter can be long and lonely. There are times when getting off the mountain just isn’t going to happen, because the snow is too deep. They have to have enough food to last for a very long time, because running out of food would be bad. There is a well, so water is not a problem, and they use a generator for electricity, so they do have to have enough fuel to run that. Still, summer will come around again, and everything is renewed.
These days, more and more people are living off the grid. It has become almost “fashionable” for people to get away from the city and all of its ties to utilities, phones, and water. With cell phones, people can still be connected to a degree, if they choose to be, but they can also shut it off when they don’t want to be connected. I think Shirley likes to be disconnected sometimes. It gives her time with her own thoughts. Being a modern day pioneer woman is not a way of life for the faint of heart. A person has to be comfortable in their own company. I don’t know if it would be something I could handle, but Shirley has done well with it, and I commend her for it. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
So many times, a loved one leaves us when we least expect it. We thought they were too young, or that they would always be there, or at the very least, we thought we would have a little more time. Then, in the blink of an eye, our loved one has left us and moved to Heaven, and we are left with the pain of loss, and continuing grief. Such was the case with my cousin, Bernard “Shorty” Cameron, who slipped away in the wee hours of Sunday morning, November 27, 2016. Shorty had been a part of our family for almost 47 years, having married my cousin, Shirley Wolfe on December 28, 1969 in Reno, Nevada. Their marriage would bless them with two beautiful children, Larry and Tonnya, and four grandchildren, Nehemiah, Tyrel, Moira, and Conner.
Shorty, and my cousin, Shirley have spent most of their married lives living high up in the woods of Wolfe mountain, named after her parents, Ruth and Jim, who settled there and gave the mountain it’s name. They built three houses on the mountain top, near each other, but with plenty of room to spread out and make their places their own. Shirley and Shorty raised a variety of animals and their two children there. I suppose some people would say that it was a lot like the Wilderness Family movies, but they liked the life they led. Being in the great outdoors, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by tall trees and the wildlife that roamed the area.
My mom, Colleen Spencer, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and I had the chance to go and visit our family in Washington in 2013, and while it was a sad event, because it was for my Uncle Jim’s funeral, I still treasured the trip, because it gave us a chance to see our precious family again. I am especially glad now that we were able to see Shorty, because as it turns out, it was for the last time. That thought makes me quite sad. It was also the last time they got to see my mom, who left us in 2015. You just never know about these things, so it is always important to take the opportunity when it presents itself. I’m glad we got to spend that time with Shorty. We love you Shorty, and we will miss you very much.
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.