Sunday, October 13, 2013


When on November 21, 1934, Allen and Dorothy Muirhead of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, had their first child, they had a first name, Joan, picked out but couldn't decide on a middle name. Dorothy's sister, Hazel, who had recently given birth to a daughter she called Jean Carolyn, suggested a rhyming name for the baby, and so she became Joan Marilyn Muirhead, the pride and joy of this young couple.

Being first in a family has its upsides and its downsides. A first child is adored and doted on, given much attention, and watched over with care and caution. Parents are controlling, following every rule they know, and yet learning through trial and error. Not being there, I cannot say for sure how extreme these typical traits were in our parents. However, I know that Joan felt a big responsibility to be the best she could be. And I know how much our parents loved her and that she always strove to please them and make them proud. And as her siblings came along, she loved each of them and helped with their care.

As I read about firstborns I compare their traits with Joan's. It is said that they often tend to be:
  • Reliable
  • Conscientious
  • Structured
  • Cautious
  • Controlling
  • Achievers
Joan was all of these things and more. Coming from parents with a strong work ethic, she proved her reliability by going to work at the age of fourteen. She began by taking care of other people's kids and as a clerk in a grocery store. I don't know what all of her jobs were, but she told me she always worked until her retirement from a long career as a paralegal. But she didn't really retire, but continued to find work here and there. At any and every job, including volunteer work, she could be counted on to be there, never late and often early, always giving her best. Yes, she was as conscientious as anyone I've ever known.

Structured? Yes. By comparison to her younger sister, the middle one, she was very orderly, tidy, and, yes, structured. She could hardly stand an messy house or things out of place. However, her creative side—from which her natural love and talent for writing and storytelling came—probably made being structured and organized challenging.

And she was certainly cautious. She was quiet and shy, never quite certain that she could measure up to the expectations of others. It was hard for her to put herself forward where she might face criticism. But the fact that something was hard never stopped Joanie from doing it anyway. Controlling? Yes, I believe she was, though she may never have seen herself that way. How can anyone so conscientious not want to control their environment?

And Joan was an achiever. Oh, yes she was! As this blog goes on, you'll see many of the achievements of this wonderful woman.

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