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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mrs. Steinbach

There are many stories I can share, too, about my best friend growing up Cathy's mother, but this one especially came to mind, triggered by something I just read in an email ....

Back in the 70s and 80s, the elementary school I attended (public) instituted something called "lunch aides":  women who came in during the lunch hour and sat in the classrooms while the kids ate, and then, supervised them on the playgrounds.  My mother was one.  And so was Mrs. Steinbach ...

Now, Mrs. Steinbach was very Catholic.  She wouldn't hesitate to say her Rosary while the kids were eating, teach them prayers, etc.  My mother especially tried to get her to stop - "Jean, you'll get fired!" (Mrs. Steinbach's first names were Regina Mary.)

Mrs. Steinbach would simply smile.

Every once in a while, you know, it would happen:  a parent would say something.  Mrs. Steinbach was called to the Principal.  She would simply smile and say, "So you want to fire me for praying?  Go right ahead!"

"You Christian types would love that!  Get back to work!"

Poor thing actually had to quit her job when she wanted to leave ;)

For as close as Mrs. Steinbach and I were, there was a whole side of her life I wasn't even aware of, until years later:  you see, when I left the Catholic church when I was 20, Dad sighed and mentioned it to her.  Oh sure my mother was Catholic, and my mother certainly knew this too! - after all, I lived at home! - but Mrs. Steinbach was, as my father would express it, one of the pillars that held the Church up.  

When Dad mentioned that to Mrs. Steinbach, she, in essence, became his spiritual advisor and prayer partner in the fight to get me back to the Church.  I had no idea this was going on.  It was completely routine for my parents to be friends with the neighbors, including the Steinbachs, so it wasn't like I noticed anything "weird"...

Now, when I went to get married the second time, I was 32.  And, as I later learned Dad said to Mrs. Steinbach, "Well, Jean .. we've given it the good fight for 12 years - time to pack it in - not only is she getting married Methodist - he's going to become a Protestant minister!"

Mrs. Steinbach's response?  "We need to pray even harder!!!"

When I started to feel called back to the Catholic church, about a year later, I couldn't tell you who was more surprised :  myself ; my anti-Catholic new husband - I could make you a list!

But there were two people who weren't too surprised - fruits of their prayers and all that ....

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