On the 23rd of July there was a notice in the Ashland Times-Gazette on the passing of Rhea A. Wheeler, 101. Rhea was born in 1903, in Ashland County, and died a month before her 102nd birthday at the home of her daughter Elsie, in Burlingame, California. It was a competent notice, but prosaic. Not revealing enough.
I have known Rhea Wheeler for over ten years. I tried to see her every time I made a trip to California. Such visits, next to seeing my mother, were the highlights of any trip. I saw her last just two months ago. I readily admit that my visits with Rhea were selfish. Although I had reason to think she enjoyed my company, the truth is I took greater delight in her company than she did in mine. She probably didn’t know that.
What does one talk about with an intelligent woman who has lived five score and one year? To answer that you can talk with her about anything is true, but is not quite sufficient, for how she talked about the world—and it was almost never about herself—becomes a massive fact and fully reveals her character.
Rhea’s eyes sparkled when she talked. She always delighted in how the world wags, and everything in it for her was wonderful, fresh, sharp, and profitable. Everything in the world gave her joy, and nothing in it made her drowsy. She never ceased to wonder how many good things there are here in it and how beauteous mankind is. Rhea’s laugh was contagious because she knew that humor is mankind’s greatest blessing, and she wasn’t about to miss anything.
I admired Rhea Wheeler and everything about her and I shall miss her and her many virtues. Did I mention that Rhea died in an easy chair, reading? May she Rest in Peace, may the Good Lord bestow His blessings on her forever.
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