“The cure for anything is salt water~
Sweat, tears or the sea.”
On December 23rd, 2004, Jill shared the news with her family that what she thought was a bad tummy ache, was in fact a tumor on her liver. The devastating word that accompanied that diagnosis was cancer. The doctor gave her two months to live. God gave her four and a half, and for that we are all eternally grateful. Jill lived her last days on her own terms. She kept her positive attitude and cheerful disposition. She served us veggie juice concoctions with fruit juice for dessert. She tested and shared healthy recipes, still trying to fatten up her hubby, Steve. But on Sunday, May 1, 2005, May Day, a beautiful sunny day, Jill left us to join her grandmas and grandpas and all the loved ones who have gone ahead to prepare her place in Heaven.
Jill was born in Everett on February 16, 1959. She arrived early and spent her first days in an incubator, building strength to go home to meet me, her big sister and brother Mike. The next year, Gayle joined the family and there were four Campbell kids. Growing up on twenty acres at the bottom of the Bunk Fosse Road, we made forts and trails in the woods. After dinner, we all went out to catch frogs, letting them go again before bed, so they could sing us to sleep only to be caught again the next night. She and Gayle had pet goats named Missy and Spring who performed great tricks, such as prancing across the roof, just like Santa’s reindeer. She would sing beautiful songs to her pets and for a time took piano lessons from our neighbor, Betty Moe.
Jill’s lifelong love of cooking began at Grandma Goodie’s house, where we opened a ‘restaurant’ out in the camp trailer and served great feasts of hot dogs and mac and cheese to Grandma and Fred. She also tested her decorating skills at Grandma’s, not only painting the upstairs bedroom purple, but sewing matching curtains for the window as well. Jill always followed her own creative path. When styles changed and girls were sewing clothes from Simplicity patterns, Jill sewed too, but she made her own patterns, creating skirts and purses just right for her.
Jill was a young mom. She would laugh about she and Sunny growing up together. They spent Sunny’s first years in a cozy house off Florence Acres Road. It was in the park like setting of her backyard that Jill pledged her love to Steve in the summer of 1987. Steve truly was the love of Jill’s life. Later they moved to Skykomish, where they turned a run down old house into a mountain mansion The best part of the house was the river rock fireplace. Built from rocks they chose one by one from the banks of the Skykomish River, Steve topped his love for Jill with the addition of three heart shaped rocks just below the mantle. They spent many happy years in this woodland retreat.
As kids growing up, summers were spent on Guemes Island at Uncle Dave’s cabin. Learning to swim in the cold salt water, beach combing and hunting for agates were some of her best memories. For Jill and Steve, heaven was in the San Juan Islands. They were happiest on their boat cruising and exploring the blue waters and hidden harbors. Their favorite place was on Cypress Island, where they camped and fished as often as they could.
The love of cooking that began in Grandma’s little trailer grew into a gourmet talent. She was in her glory developing new recipes to try on Steve (still hoping, to no avail, to fatten him up). Jill could taste something once and figure out the necessary ingredients, right down to some obscure seasoning or spice, and recreate it at home. Her Applebee’s chicken oriental salad is better than the original.
In 2001, Jill and Steve bought an old farmhouse just up the road from the wooded acreage we Campbell kids grew up on. As is usually the case when you take on a project from a romantic point of view as opposed to a practical one, there was a bit more work than they anticipated…drain field, plumbing, pipes, heating… but they finally caught up to where Jill’s heart was ~ the kitchen. She had her wood cook stove fired up, bread rising on the solid wood topped island and row upon row of colorful Ball jars lined up on the wall of shelves Steve built to accommodate her passion. With her delicious recipes and beautiful displays, Jill was always in demand with friends and family when planning weddings, showers and other gatherings. We still talk about her bread dough bunny with the tummy hollowed out and filled with dip for the most darling veggie tray ever served on Easter Sunday.
It’s been almost twelve years since we said good bye. Twelve years of sharing stories of our many good times. It is the sharing of memories that keeps her with us, while reminding us that life is indeed short, and we must live each day well. Jill lived life to the fullest, loved everyone to pieces and her only fear at the end was leaving us alone. She knew she was going to a place of pure light and love. I think she saw through the veil and found her peace.
Today, I celebrate 58 years of sisterhood with my sweet Jill. Happy Birthday, dear one! You are loved~