Sometimes when I hear stories about Guelita Caro, Carolina Amezcua Salinas I can hardly believe that the same tiny, frail woman I remember from my childhood could have endured so much. Every summer until her death in 1984 mom and dad would load us in the car for our drive to Piedras Negras, Mexico. I'm sure like most children I grumbled at the long drive, but all I remember are the happy feelings of excitement that we would soon be with Guelita Caro.
My great-grandmother was a tiny woman who was blind in one eye and shuffled as she walked. She smelled of roses, and every time I smell the aroma of coffee, I am instantly transported back into her kitchen. Some of my fondest memories are laying on her bed next to her listening to her talk. I don't remember any specific story, but I remember how loved she loved me. For the first ten years of my life, I was able to love a woman who I would later come to admire and find strength from in ways I never anticipated.
Guelita Caro was a young woman during the time of the Mexican Revolution and lived in the time of Pancho Villa. She loved to share the stories of when Pancho Villa and his men would come into town, and her parents would hide her up the cooking chimney. They did this to keep her safe. Pancho Villa and his men were known for taking the beautiful young women with them. My mother recounts that Guelita Caro would giggle as she told this story and somewhere in my mind I can hear her giggle. Did she fear for her life or was it a grand adventure that only the innocence of youth brings?
She became a young widow when her husband was murdered, leaving her to support her young family of 6 children. I often wonder how she endured the pain of sorrow and grief? How did she find the strength to move forward each day? Whenever I hear people talk about Guelita Caro, it is with great respect and admiration for how hard she worked and how much she loved people. She was known for her compassion and love, always doing something to lift another's burden.
She was an excellent seamstress creating beautiful designs just from a picture. I love to hear my grandmother talk about her wedding dress Guelita Caro made for her wedding. The yards and yards of fabric and intricate needlework are part of my story. I think of her when I add a stitch to a quilt and wonder what she must have been thinking or feeling as she stitched quilts not only for income but for love. What sacrifices did she make as she did piecework, embroidering little flowers on baby gowns, for factories in Eagle Pass to provide for her family?
From carding wool to tilling the earth for food, from rolling out tortillas and everything in between, Guelita Caro was a woman of strength. She was a beautiful woman who found joy in the simple details and gave thanks for the blessings she would see. I think of her when I feel overwhelmed by a trial knowing that if Guelita Caro could find happiness and strength along the way, then I can survive, thrive, and make the world a better place because of her life and example.
I wrote about Guelita Caro as part of the celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Relief Society. You can read all the segments and watch some wonderful videos about inspirational women here: Celebrate Women of the Relief Society. In each section, there is one of these free downloads, which I include here along with a bonus quote. We are so richly blessed by strong women in our lives who give us strength today to bless the lives of those around us.
Download Akimball_RSquote4_w (bonus print)
It was such an honor to pour over the beautiful words of our beautiful Relief Society Presidents. Trying to narrow down a favorite quote would be impossible, the ones I chose for this project just seemed to fit.