People who have read this blog for a long time may remember Paul Wheeler as a contributor. He was a Montana person who lived in a decrepit trailer in the woods of a narrow valley near Bonner's Ferry. He was a huge man, both tall and wide. Cancer literally gutted him after a vital life of strength and endurance.
As a child, he visited the Scriver Museum of Montana Wildlife often, coming to the receptionist (me) for coins to make the rattlesnake in a display rattle its tail. It was a Texas rattler and Scriver put its eyes in sideways, but no one ever complained. It was a great little moneymaker.
Paul had a brother who died in infancy and was buried in the Crown Hill Cemetary in Cut Bank. His mother would bring the surviving children to town on the bus and then they would walk to the cemetary a couple of miles away. The father fits an old and unhappy pattern, so we'll leave him out of this. Paul's uncle Glen was a minister and tried to help throughout the boy's life. Another relative, Ted Wheeler, ran a septic service in Valier and earlier was a federal bear control trapper.
When Paul went to college in Missoula, majoring in forestry, he lived in a tipi up in uninhabited land. His sentiments about how to live leaned to the frontier and early day settlement, something like the Rainbow Family. He married and had sons. One of his great happinesses was hot springs, soaking in them and bringing along people who needed comforting, esp. women.
Paul found my blog and became a correspondent during a time when I was actively leaving his "frame of life", that of the settler, the homesteader, the self-reliant pioneer, and coming to a far more philosophical point of view that was anti-what it had been before. I was now diabetic and no longer in baking pies. But Paul insisted that I was a sort of earth mother and never noticed that I bristle at the idea of being a mother. On the other side, this house is always needing to be fixed and he advised me what to do. He had a business maintaining properties of all kinds and never had problems with evicting people because of his size. He also ran a fire extinguisher program, selling and maintaining them, and was frustrated that his sons didn't pick up on it.
Eventually he stopped reading my blogs, esp the specialized ones with big vocabularies, and it became more obvious that he wanted control. In other words, he was a conventional man. His enormous size meant that he couldn't walk, he stopped wearing clothes at home, and he drove towing an ATV to get around. He couldn't stay in motels, so he camped, but the old camping spots became overrun by kids partying.
I'm sorry Paul suffered and that his life has ended, but he made his choices and stuck with them and not all of us are able to do that. I couldn't find an obit. His Uncle Glen notified me of the January death but nothing about services.