My Mom: Dorace Jean Caldwell Guin
It's always fun to brag on my Mom! Now that she will 80 on Jan. 23, 2006, I want to share her with all of you.
Disclaimer: The facts that I think I know may be wrong! (Hard to believe, but there it is!) I'll try to correct errors, but for now, I am putting down my memories and my own understanding of things, such as it is.
Early: Mother was born in Corsicana, Texas, and was the second of four children. Her father, David Austin Caldwell, worked for Humble Oil, now part of Exxon, so they moved from oil field to oil field until finally settling down in Pampa, Texas.
Mother showed an early talent for logical thinking. Her daddy had a bucket of water(?) on the porch and for some reason told her to leave it absolutely alone - "Don't lay even a finger on it!" Mother thought about it carefully and then stuck her elbow into the water. Nothing had been said about touching with elbows. Right? Her daddy did not buy her reasoning. There were consequences of a painful nature.
High School: Mother lettered in Drama as part of a state-award-winning team. She edited the school newspaper for two years and was valedictorian of her class.
College: During World War II, Mother attended the University of Texas, in Austin. She was quite beautiful and dated widely. She says that in those days it was not unusual to date different boys at the same time. At her peak, she had a brunch date, a lunch date, an afternoon ballgame date, and an after-the-game date... all on the same day and all with different men! She was nominated by University Baptist Church as a Bluebonnet Belle, who were beauties of the University. She met Daddy while he was stationed nearby. Got her only two B's after meeting him. They married after knowing each other only 6 months, much of that apart. Can't say that I would recommend that to my own children(!), but it seems to have worked out well so far!
Mother had to finish her degree in pieces. She lacked a year's worth of credits when they married. She got another semester in at the U. of Texas while waiting on Daddy to be discharged from the army and 12 quarter hours at the U. of Alabama while he was in law school. The rest she did by correspondence over several years while having babies, finishing in 1954. Such a challenge! But that's my mom, lots of stick-to-it-iveness.
Journalism Career: Mother majored in journalism at the University of Texas. She worked at an Austin daily paper while in college, as the Society Editor. She edited on the Alumni News while Daddy was in law school at the University of Alabama and on the Franklin County Times when they moved to Russellville, Alabama, Daddy's home town. That lasted until the day she was interviewing the United Way head and threw up in his wastebasket. That was my fault. She was pregnant with me!
As a Mom: Motherhood and homemaking are not careers that pay a salary. But they certainly take a lot of time, a lot of work, and many different skills! Mother has excelled at so many! The obvious are cooking, cleaning, sewing, and yard work. But there are many more subtle ones - making you feel competent in the middle of an impending scholastic disaster, listening to homework woes until you figure it out yourself, encouraging new activities and dreams, seeing to it that you get the lessons that you didn't know you wanted (Art!) and the ones you wanted but don't want to practice (Piano!). She never let me coast.
My Own Memories
Girl Scouts: Mother was my Girl Scout leader until my youngest brother came along. Later she was my sister's leader and the Service Unit Manager (chief Girl Scout volunteer for the area) for many years. Our two troops were the first in our town to stay active in Girl Scouts all the way through high school. I attribute it largely to her hard work and influence. Her mother had done the same for her! I followed in her footsteps with my own daughters.
Clothes: Mother made just about all my clothes and my sister's. The first store-bought dresses I ever had were for my 12th birthday, as a gift from my grandmother. They were too tight in the shoulders. Mother's creations always fit!
Right vs. Left: Everyone has a flaw or weakness. The only one my mother has is a little problem with directions. You can never be sure when Mama uses the words "left" and "right" whether she really means what you heard. The directions that those words represent seem to float back and forth, randomly. We have learned to double check!
During those three-week family trips across the West, we children heard a number of exchanges like: "Do I turn left here?" Mama answers, "Right." And Daddy says, "Does that mean 'Yes you should turn left' or does it mean 'No, you should turn right'!!???" Then there were the episodes of "Turn right, I mean, left. No, right."
Super Mama to the rescue: One of my vivid early memories is of the day Mother saved my sister's life. There was a large round concrete wading pool at the city park, perhaps 30 feet across. The middle area was deepest, probably 2 feet or so deep. My sister was not a swimmer yet, about 4 or 5 years old. She was splashing around in an inflatable ring (in the days before floaties were invented). All of a sudden I see Mama dashing through the water, shoes, skirt and all. Turning, I saw my sister upside down at the center of the pool, feet waving wildly in the air. Super Mama to the rescue!
No panic in this house: Mother showed me how to behave in another emergency when I was 11 or 12. Daddy and I had been teasing each other in the car, coming home from church. When we got home, he jumped out and ran inside and locked the back door, laughing. I came barreling out of the car in hot pursuit. Instead of trying to slow down, I decided (consciously!) to catch myself on the backdoor. Apparently I had grown taller than I knew over the summer. I missed the wooden bottom part of the door and smashed my arms through the window part above, showering my poor dad with glass and gashing my left arm from wrist to elbow. You can imagine the blood! Daddy was aghast! Mother never panicked. She rushed me to the bathroom, grabbed a beach towel for the blood and started rinsing and picking out the larger pieces of glass. Then off to the hospital we went. I got 19 stitches in the big gash, plus 2 and 4 stitches in two others. She never chastised or lectured me either. Such restraint qualifies her for sainthood for sure.
What I learned from Mama
It's hard to figure out how you got to be who and what you are. But there are a few things that I can see that I learned from my mom: