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January 2007 Edition
A Special Tribute:
Catherine Taylor Rhodes


 



"Wind Beneath My Wings"
Bette Midler



This recording contains "Wind Beneath My Wings" and a clip of Kay speaking about her childhood and family. Her comments are taken from a recording made in 1992 by Buddy, Kay, Fran and Opal.


A. Catherine Taylor ("Kay") became a member of the Rhodes family in 1941 when she married her lifelong sweetheart Robert Rhodes. Kay was Mom to Larry, Don and Cathy, Mamaw to Shellie, Aunt to Phil and Ginger Hunt, Bill, Norma and Sally Tomlinson. Grandma to Bob and Heather, and Great Grandmother to Brent, Tony, Natalie and Adam.

Kay loved to spend time with her family, loved to read, crochet, travel and research genealogy. She possessed an energetic and contagious interest in people and the world around her. She was kindhearted, nurturing, forgiving and always mindful of the feelings of others.

Kay is deeply missed by all she touched during her time on this earth. We are each able to walk a little taller because of her.

"WE CARRY YOU FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS"


Cathy Rhodes

It's hard to narrow any one thought or memory of Mom down to a succinct description...over the 55 years that I
was around her, a lot of things happened.


One thing I remember is our birthdays when we were young and living in Decatur. I always thought that it was really unique the way Mom and Dad would give out the birthday gifts...I don't know if this was Mom's idea, or Dad's, or a combination of both. For Larry (the older and wiser at the time), she would hide the birthday gifts all over the house. Then, when it came time to hand them out, she gave Larry written clues, or really riddles, as to where they were and he had to go find them. I'm pretty sure he always found them all. I can't remember, but I think the same technique was used for Don, too, since he was older and wiser as well. For me, the younger, and not yet so wise, they put the gifts in various places in the house, tied really, really long strings to them and brought the non-present ends of all the strings together in one location at the center of the house, where, upon Mom's signal, I would follow each string to the surprise gift and, WooHoo, open it there on the spot.

I can tell you that was really fun. So, that's one memory of Mom that I have; she always tried to come up with fun things for us to do. In later years, it turned into her organizing vacation trips that I sometimes went with them on.

She always looked for new and fun places to go and see, even when we were doing genealogy.

Cathy Rhodes/ 2006



Robert Rhodes

Cathy, I remember those games we used to play with presents at birthdays and Christmas etc.

Mom was the instigator of those events. She liked to make a game of things to make it more interesting for you kids. She was always on the lookout for ideas to use to make things more enjoyable. Some of the games probably originated from her teaching magazines and others she got from her friends when they had showers and other parties. Others she probably invented by herself.

Many times she would enlist me in the process if she needed a picture drawn or some other prop. I was always a willing helper because I admired her genius.

She said she wasn't a good teacher, but in fact she was. She had an uncanny knack for reading people and knowing their thoughts and how to help them.

Dad (Robert Rhodes) / 2006



Opal Rhodes Hunt

In 1983, Mom wrote down some of her memories. She called it "A Bit of History, A Few Facts And Some Memories of My Family". There are a couple of memories that I'd like to share that Mom had of Aunt Kay. I know that Mom had many, many fond memories of Aunt Kay, and, if she was able, she would want to contribute to our web site.

"Buddy met Catherine (Kay) Taylor at church, and they were married on September 12, 1941. Kay and I became good friends; she has been more than a sister to me through the years, and I value her friendship and the good times we had.

Their first child, Robert Larry, was born in January, 1944, and Buddy left for his basic training shortly thereafter...
Larry was much loved; he was the first grandchild on both sides of his family, and for the first time, I learned about being around babies and came to love him too. After Buddy went into the army, Kay and Larry lived with us on King Street, and she and I enjoyed doing things together. We shared the back bedroom (with Larry) and I remember Kay having to get up at night to feed him. He was always an active baby, and seemed to need quite a bit of attention. Kay and I would sit on the bed evenings and write letters -she, of course, to Buddy, and I wrote to Fran..."

Opal Rhodes Hunt
April 25, 1983



Ginger Rollins Hunt

Not long after Dad died, Aunt Kay and Uncle Buddy
came
to Grand Rapids to visit Mom. Before their visit,
I had made the decision to move Mom to an Alzheimer's care facility, because I was no longer able to care for
her on my own. It was a very difficult time for me, still struggling to come to terms with Dad's death, and trying
to honor my promise to him to take care of Mom.
Aunt Kay and Uncle Buddy were my "support group".

 
One afternoon, Aunt Kay and I ended up sitting on
the bed in my room talking.  She was very supportive
of my decision to move Mom, and we talked at length
about why it was best for Mom and for me. Then, the conversation turned to Dad. My dad had never been
very open about his early years, nor had he talked
much about his Dad. Aunt Kay sat and talked with me
about Dad's early life. She told me about some of his struggles as a young man, and about his distress over
his father's death. She talked to me about what type of
man he was and the type of husband he had been. She helped me understand what molded him into the type of father he became to Phil and me. We talked for a long
time.
 
Aunt Kay was very open, very kind, and very supportive.
I learned a lot about my Dad that afternoon...things
that I never would have known had she not been
willing to share those things with me. I will never forget
that afternoon, nor will I forget the kindness and
compassion of Aunt Kay.

Ginger Rollins Hunt / 2006
 



Phil Hunt

We figured that if Flash Gordon could fly from one planet to another with a sheet tied to his back that it wouldn’t be a problem for us to sail from the top of the shed to the ground with the same equipment. Well, we made it to the ground alright, but both of us with very sore knees.

Aunt Kay must have known that something was amiss that morning. She arrived with perfect timing just before we re-launched. “You boys better come in and have some lunch”...now! We followed her back to the house limping, and a little apprehensive.

Lunch was short...milk with a spoon of vanilla and sugar, a sandwich and a burning glance or two while we ate. “Okay...you guys better get back outside”, “But, hand over that sheet before you go”. The stern look in her eyes, tempered with that forgiving smile, made it very clear that we would do well to comply.

We were a little relieved that interplanetary travel was out of the question.

Phil Hunt / 2006


Don Rhodes

As I recall, in our next launch we planned to attach the cape to our ankles so as to catch the wind and, maybe, break the fall somewhat.

Kids grew up tougher in those days simply because we were allowed enough freedom to experiment and find out what hurt. Then, those of us who survived went on to not do those things again.

To this day, as a result of that experiment, I'd choose to go down with the plane rather than jump.

I appreciate the freedom Mom and Dad allowed us to experiment coupled with the concern when things went wrong.

Don Rhodes / 2006



Don Rhodes

I was probably 4, maybe a little less. Larry had gotten to start school and I didn't. Mom must have seen that I was feeling left out.

So-- Dad built a "lunch room" from concrete blocks at the side of the house and every day, for a while, Mom would make me a lunch and put it in a lunchbox so I could go out to the "lunch room" and have lunch like the big kids.

Some time later, Mom was laying on the lower bunk helping Larry with his homework and I was laying on the top bunk with a ball bearing in my mouth (Dad used to bring them home from work for us to use a marbles. (they made great shooters). The ball bearing slipped down my throat, to my surprise. I said "I just swallowed a ball bearing". Mom jumped up and asked: "Did it go down?". I said that it did and she said: "Well, what did you learn?"

I'm not sure what I said but I never laid on my back with a ball bearing in my mouth again.

Don Rhodes / 2006




Shellie Rhodes

My grandmother never knew she was my hero. She never knew, because I didn't realize it myself until she was gone. She never knew her support, both during a time of need and remembered, rose like the wind for those who were so important to her. Although I never told her in person, I always felt her presence whenever I found myself in need of a mother, for she was far more to me than a grandparent. She never knew that when I got that final call..."she's slipped away from us"...I had to be there.

As I sat on the darkened plane that night, wide awake in the midst of snoring passengers, startled at every bump, shaking and terrified as we made our descent. I heard her say, “Now Shell, you just be calm…the plane is safe and there is nothing for you to be afraid of…I want you here, I need you here for you--and for them”.

I remember her for the way she spoke to only me that night... for the way she fixed her hair with that little backwards curl in front and how she always had to run upstairs and put her lipstick on before anyone was allowed to take a picture. I remember the smell of her of White Shoulders perfume when she hugged me, her love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all mixed together, and her smile that still warms my heart. I remember the times when she went around turning on lights when I was reading..."Shell, you'll ruin your pretty brown eyes"... and for the times she referred to me as her little girl. I remember all of the things that made her who she was during her time on this earth. She lives through me because of her ways and the things she taught me. I remember her for who she was and for who she is…a strong, "gentle wind".

Shellie Rhodes / 2006


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