February 13, 1931 – November 19, 2020
Catalina Woods, aka “Shorty,” aka “Granny,” aka “Mimi,” aka “Abuelita,” left this world at the ripe age of 89. She was born on February 13th, 1931 and passed on November 18, 2020.
Catalina was born in El Paso, TX and spent most of her life scraping her way out of poverty, dedicating her energy to work and raising her family. Despite having only a 9th grade education, she became wise in the ways of the world, and ensured that her children and grandchildren all had the opportunity to finish formal schooling and never have to endure the pain of a growling belly or lack of a roof over their head.
Although the top of her own head came up to the chin of a garden gnome when she was wearing high heels (hence the nickname “Shorty”), she gave natural birth to ten children, and raised all of them to become successful, independent, and hard-working in their own right. More importantly, the family she created was full of love, for the world and for each other. Most of them never experienced the heart-breaking poverty that she did precisely because of her indefatigable dedication to crafting a better life for them, lives not just of relative material security, but full of love and beauty.
Catalina’s life and personality might be captured best by comparing it to the process of making tamales, something she did every holiday season for the family to enjoy. Making tamales is an arduous task that takes days to prepare, cooking the ingredients and then carefully wrapping each tamal like a precious gift. She would make batches of 500 each time, soaking the husks (ojas), deboning the chicken, spreading the masa, wrapping the tamals, and finally steaming them. Likewise, Catalina’s life was full of dedication, patience, care, as well as the sometimes painful but necessary process of putting raw ingredients into the flame so that they may transform into something nourishing. And like tamales, Catalina was full of spice and sass, something that brought so much “flavor” to everyone she encountered. From her life, her family and friends enjoyed thousands of feasts—feasts of the belly, but feasts of the spirit as well.
Catalina is preceded in death by her mother, Maria Colunga, father, Rafael Telles, three of her children—Michael Dominguez, Gilbert Dominguez, Jr., and Thomas Dominguez—and her husband Oddrea “Woody” Woods.
The list of those who survived her is an epic “begats” worthy of the Book of Genesis—Children: Johnny Dominguez, Mary Anthamatten, Paul Dominguez, Patrick Dominguez, Margaret Lovell, and Jimmy Hager; Grandchildren: Leatha, Jamie, Rick, Chris, Yvette, Mary, Katherine, Jennifer, Keith, Eric, Dustin, Paula, Ashley, Douglas, Lacie, and Chance. To name all of the great grandchildren (13) and great-great grandchildren (7) would be to attempt to name all of the dandelion seeds blown away by the wind.
Clearly, Catalina’s life was beautiful in its abundance, as she literally and metaphorically brought so much life and love into the world.
Credit: Eric Anthamatten-Dominguez
A Celebration of Life
Sunday, November 29, 2020
November 24, 2020
Although we grew up in poverty, Mom always kept a roof over our head, food in our bellies and made sure we wore clean clothes. She would wash our brothers jeans on a washboard in the bathtub. She loved our family gatherings which were her happiest moments in her life.