When I saw a blog article on the Huffington Post by “That Girl”, I was curious. The post was titled St. Jude at 50…and a Nation’s Stamp of Approval.
What else did Marlo Thomas have to say, I wondered.
I remember her father, Danny Thomas, as the Lebanese actor well known for his big nose, who played the dad in one of my favorite childhood TV series “Make Room for Daddy”, and as the founder of St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
I clicked over to read the article.
I learned that on February 16, the United States Postal Service will unveil a commemorative stamp in honor of her famous father. He passed away on February 6, 1991. This year he would have turned 100 and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
But the most fascinating part of her story was how her father came to build St. Jude. She tells it like this:
“Dad was a struggling young nightclub comic who needed $50 to get his newborn daughter Marlo and his young wife Rose Marie out of the hospital. He only had $10. He was scared and went to church and prayed to St. Jude — the saint of hopeless causes — for a sign showing that he was on the right path and should stay in show business.
Placing seven of his ten dollars in the collection box, he said, “I need that back, times ten, tomorrow. If you give me a sign, one day I will build a shrine in your honor.”
The next day, Dad got a call to play a singing toothbrush in a radio commercial for $75. He had his sign.”
I too prayed to a patron saint and had my prayers answered.
It was 1972, and my husband David and I were teenagers and going steady. I really wanted an ankh necklace and most assuredly hinted about it. It was an era of peace and love, and the dawning of the age of Aquarius. Ankhs were popular and I loved the symbolism of “eternal life”.
I was thrilled when David gave me one for a Christmas present. It was custom made and simply beautiful. Solid gold with a diamond in the middle, it was perfect. It suited my style to a tee and I wore it all the time.
Then, one day I lost it.
After walking down the block in front of my parent’s home, I realized that my necklace was gone. I couldn’t imagine how it could have fallen off of my neck. Did I not completely close the clasp?
I began to retrace my steps and searched everywhere. I was afraid it was lost in the grass, never to be found. I went home. Not only was I upset and disappointed with myself for losing the necklace, I didn’t relish the idea of telling David I had lost his lovely gift.
Feeling helpless and desperately wanting to find my necklace, I prayed to Saint Anthony of Padua – the patron saint of lost and stolen articles. I promised to give 10 dollars in his honor if he helped me find my ankh.
I don’t remember how many days went by before I found my necklace at the end of the block lying near the edge of the sidewalk.
I cannot tell you how happy I was! My prayers had been answered.
In 1973, David and I got married and started a family.
Life went on, business opportunities took shape, and our family grew. Almost everyday, I wore my ankh. Our three children grew up and David and I had two more. Over the course of the years, my religious convictions changed, but I never forgot my promise to Saint Anthony.
One day during the period of time when David and I were preparing to move across the country to start a new life, I made a visit to St. Edwards Catholic Church.
There in the quiet church that smelled of candles, I saw a gentleman who appeared to be doing light maintenance, dusting perhaps.
“Where can I find Saint Anthony,” I asked.
He pointed across the pews to the back side of the church. With my little girls in tow and a 10 dollar bill in my hand, I walked up to the statue of Saint Anthony of Padua.
Thirty three years after having my prayer answered, I placed the money in the poor box and looked up at Saint Anthony. My promise had been fulfilled.