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.