Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Way down upon the time*less river, fra, fra away!

Is it true blondes have more fun? If you're old enough to remember that line, you're old enough to appreciate this pic of me & my good buddies, "The Pious Ladies." In cruising my hard drive this morning, I found the remnants of my UD website that I spent 20 years building and had to take down in one crushing moment of persecution for being "too Catholic" (this too Catholic woman has since retired, which I never would have done if my persecutors hadn't turned my once-gloriously fun job into a nightmare, and being retired is SO DANGED COOL IT ROCKS JOY TO THE MAX that I owe Nancy Nobile, Lisa Thibault and the others a debt of gratitude forever...)

So here's my long-lost explanation of Who The Pious Ladies Are. And, oh yeah, I spent my 40's as a blonde but I'm having more fun as an almost-60 brunette-over-silver than I ever had in my wild 40's, so I guess Miss Clairol was wrong...

Who are the Pious Ladies?

In 1983, Rae Stabosz was pregnant with her seventh child, Eric. An ultrasound in the seventh month of pregnancy revealed a problem with the baby -- his limbs were not developed, and he had difficulty swallowing. Her doctor told her to expect a "thalidomide-type" baby, ie. one with flippers instead of arms and legs.

Rae was devastated by that prognosis. A group of women from Rae's then-parish, Holy Angels Catholic church in Newark, Delaware, threw a birthday party for her in the hopes of cheering her up. She did not know these women well at all, and was both surprised and touched by their action. She felt at the time as if she were carrying a monster within her, not a child. These women reached out to her at a time when horror and isolation threatened to engulf her. The birthday party allowed her to experience the connection between women who were different from her and from one another in personality and background, but similar in sharing a common bond of discipleship in Christ. It was, for Rae, the Communion of Saints come to life.

.[Skip forward in time to Eric's birth and short life: As it turned out, Eric did have arms and legs, not flippers, but they were foreshortened, as is typical for a dwarf, which Eric turned out to be. He suffered from thanatophoric dwarfism, which is always fatal. He lived just 100 days. Rae has written about him elsewhere.]

That was the first Pious Ladies Meeting. Later Rae, Debora and Diane from the original group hooked up with Ellen from the parish library and began to meet once a month. Two things are always a given at a Pious Ladies meeting: food and wine. Beyond that, the evening's festivities might include praying, baring our hearts to one another, telling dirty jokes, singing, dancing or even howling at the moon as happened on one occasion. Each month the Pious Ladies meet at a different member's house, and the hostess' family clears out and leaves the whole house to the "goofy women".

The name "Pious Ladies" was coined by Rae's daughter Reetie. Reetie came home one night from wherever it was that Bill would take the kids when Rae hosted PiLadies meetings, and smelled a lingering fragrance of cologne. "What's that? Pious Ladies smell!" she said, and the name stuck

What brought us all together to begin with was that we were all "Father Goldstein groupies". Father Gershon Goldstein, of blessed memory, was an oblate of Mary Immaculate who served as Director of Religious Education at Holy Angels Parish for many years. All four of us Pious Ladies either taught or were grade level principals under Fr. Goldstein. We all loved him. He came to one Pious Ladies meeting, with Thelma Hollender. He hoped to join our group and be an honorary Pious Lady, or a Pious Man but he never passed the rigorous entrance exam.

The official roll call of Pious Ladies is as follows:
Debora Hosey
Ellen Lafferty
Diane Naylor
Rae Stabosz

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