Rhea Hollis–My Sweet (Stubborn) Grandma

Rhea Jean [Thompson] Hollis

 April 1925-September 2011

Sweet with a Core of Stubborn

Any one who met my grandmother would call her sweet.  Sweet for her nature, sweet for her kind face, sweet for the delectable fudge and divinity she was known for making.  But underneath that sweetness lay a foundation of stubborn.  She rarely let it show but occasionally, just when it was least expected, she would dig her heels in and demand her way.

When she was twelve, the teacher in her one room school-house decided to whip her brother for something little auburn haired Rhea Thompson didn’t think was fair. Up she stood, “If you whoop my brother, I’ll pull down your britches and whoop you, too.”

When she was 12, she saw a handsome young traveling farm laborer and decided he was hers.  By the next year he agreed with her.  When she was 14, he asked my great-grandfather for her hand in marriage.  Sure the kids would forget each other as the young Oklahoma man traveled across the country in search of work, Great-Grandpa said that he would agree if they waited til next year.  Many letters and tears later, they again faced him.  This time my grandmother was 15 and determined. Great-Grandpa agreed to their wedding.

When I was born, she was only 34.  My memories, like the rest of her grandkids, center round warm laps and cookies, laughter and love, but occasionally the stubborn in her would rise to the surface. No one in the family will ever forget the time Grandpa, showing off, snapped his fingers one too many times demanding she bring him a glass of water. She did and then poured it on him to our delight and horror.

After Grandpa died, she came to live with my mother.  Over the years her memory slipped away until she wasn’t always sure if I was her daughter or her granddaughter.  And, as she passed this last week, and we took turns sitting with her, she barely noticed our presence. One by one the strings anchoring her to the earth loosened and she floated away leaving us with a lot of sweet memories, a loving family, and… a core of stubborn in each of our souls.

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37 comments

  • That’s lovely, Kym. Wish I’d known your grandmother! Wish my grandmothers had been so great.

  • My deepest condolences in your loss. She must have been a wonderful person.

    You know that I’m not biblical, but some things in the Bible just seem to make sense. Ecclesiastes -3:
    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,

    My very best to you and your family in your time of grief.
    Ernie

  • My deepest condolences in your loss. She must have been a wonderful person.

    You know that I’m not biblical, but some things in the Bible just seem to make sense. Ecclesiastes -3:
    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,

    My very best to you and your family in your time of grief.
    Ernie

  • K at the bookstore

    I am quite certain the sweetness and the stubbornness live on in at least one granddaughter, Kym.

    May your family keep all these memories and blessings safely in their hearts. Your grandma kind of reminds me of my own.

  • K at the bookstore

    I am quite certain the sweetness and the stubbornness live on in at least one granddaughter, Kym.

    May your family keep all these memories and blessings safely in their hearts. Your grandma kind of reminds me of my own.

  • My condolences to your family, Kym. And my congratulations–what a lucky family, what a wonderful life.

  • My condolences to your family, Kym. And my congratulations–what a lucky family, what a wonderful life.

  • Life and death puts everything else in perspective, and as usual you put it well. My wife and I will drink a glass of water in honor of your grandmother–at least I hope we’ll drink it!

  • Life and death puts everything else in perspective, and as usual you put it well. My wife and I will drink a glass of water in honor of your grandmother–at least I hope we’ll drink it!

  • Sweet, I agree! Especially your story…34 year old grandma? Your mom also had kids young huh?

  • Sweet, I agree! Especially your story…34 year old grandma? Your mom also had kids young huh?

  • Thank you, Kym. Grandma would have loved your tribute to her. It is amazing how little bits and pieces of her show up in each of her daughters and grandaughters – from her blue, blue eyes, sparkling smile and even a touch of stubborness. She has left a legacy for all us to emulate.

  • Thank you, Kym. Grandma would have loved your tribute to her. It is amazing how little bits and pieces of her show up in each of her daughters and grandaughters – from her blue, blue eyes, sparkling smile and even a touch of stubborness. She has left a legacy for all us to emulate.

  • So sorry for your loss, Kym, but I do envy the time you had with your Grandma. My grandparents were gone by the time I was born and I know I missed out on a lot not knowing them. Your children are also very fortunate to have had that contact.

  • So sorry for your loss, Kym, but I do envy the time you had with your Grandma. My grandparents were gone by the time I was born and I know I missed out on a lot not knowing them. Your children are also very fortunate to have had that contact.

  • Great tribute Kym. So sorry to hear of your loss. Much love to your family.

  • Great tribute Kym. So sorry to hear of your loss. Much love to your family.

  • How wonderful you had her in your life for so long. My condolences to your family. What a lovely tribute you have made to her.

  • How wonderful you had her in your life for so long. My condolences to your family. What a lovely tribute you have made to her.

  • You write a beautiful story about a feisty woman. I feel like I know her! My condolences for your loss, and how lovely you got to spend so much time with your grandmother.

  • You write a beautiful story about a feisty woman. I feel like I know her! My condolences for your loss, and how lovely you got to spend so much time with your grandmother.

  • What nice memories. What a touching story. Sweet, determined, stubborn, loving, laughter and cookies and fudge. All the tender bonds and sinews that weave a family together.

  • What nice memories. What a touching story. Sweet, determined, stubborn, loving, laughter and cookies and fudge. All the tender bonds and sinews that weave a family together.

  • That’s a great photograph. I think you may be the van Gogh of soHum. RIP Rhea.

  • That’s a great photograph. I think you may be the van Gogh of soHum. RIP Rhea.

  • a nice way to remember your gradmother. sounds like she had a full life with lots of love. sorry for your loss.

  • a nice way to remember your gradmother. sounds like she had a full life with lots of love. sorry for your loss.

  • What a wonderful tribute, and a beautiful portrait! Condolences to you and your sweet mom.

  • What a wonderful tribute, and a beautiful portrait! Condolences to you and your sweet mom.

  • That was a beautiful piece Kym – especially the last part… and I keep thinking that when we were 18, she was our age now.

  • That was a beautiful piece Kym – especially the last part… and I keep thinking that when we were 18, she was our age now.

  • I missed this for some reason, but it was very special that you were able to have such a relationship within the generations of family. My grandparents were all “gone” by the time I reached early teens, so I see this as a sweet gift when someone gets to have so a relationship as the one you had. It means more than we will know, but it is a gift and thank you for letting us share a tiny remembrance with you.

  • I missed this for some reason, but it was very special that you were able to have such a relationship within the generations of family. My grandparents were all “gone” by the time I reached early teens, so I see this as a sweet gift when someone gets to have so a relationship as the one you had. It means more than we will know, but it is a gift and thank you for letting us share a tiny remembrance with you.

  • Lovely tribute, Kym. Great photo, too.

  • Lovely tribute, Kym. Great photo, too.

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