We always meet the most lovely people when we stay at the monastery, a wide assortment from every generation and part of the country (and other countries), who are visiting for every sort of reason. So on one afternoon I was having a chat with my father-in-law (who is highly opinionated) and another woman around his age named Joe Therese (Joe for Josephine). He made a remark about Italians to get a rise out of her, assuming (based on her name) that she was Italian. She turned out to be Irish, but she explained the origin of her name.
Her mother and father, she said, had been praying and praying for a kid - but no kid showed up. They had seen every doctor, and were losing hope; it had been five years. Now, I was surprised when my 60yo aunt said that she took clomid to conceive my 32yo cousin - I had assumed clomid was a new thing. But this woman was not talking about 32 years ago. What "every doctor" was there? What nonsense did the medical profession offer infertiles in generations past? I hope her poor mother didn't have to suffer through an HSG.
Anyway, she explained, her parents went to St. Therese's shrine in Chicago, and promised that if they had a baby, they would name her Therese. And Joe Therese came along not long after.
It was all I could do to restrain myself from asking exactly how old she was. I was dying to know. (I also wanted to know whether they later had any other kids.) But the next day, when the conversation surrounded my FIL's 72nd birthday, it came out that she's 81. More than 81 years ago, an infertile Catholic couple in Chicago had been ttc for five years. They'd seen "all the doctors," who could offer them no help, and they turned to St. Therese for a miracle.
I know Abraham and Sarah went through this rather longer ago than that, but the connection to a world I think of as mine only (well, you know, and yours too) was still a bit of a revelation to me. I don't suppose the St. Therese angle is going to help anyone - I don't know of any Catholic infertiles who haven't already prayed a novena or twenty for a baby. (And those poor kids...Gerard Gianna Anne Therese John Paul Joseph Jude is going to rue the day his parents saw two pink lines.)
But I thought I would share this small, strange gem, from her world to mine, and from mine to yours.