When my mother was six years old, back in the late 1930s, her family went to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Back then, my mother was chubby, and her idol, the person at the circus she most wanted to see was the Fat Lady.
During the intermission, my mom went down to the side shoe to get a look at the Fat Lady. She snuck up behind a column and peeked around in fascination. As she was standing there, a man who was part of the audience that was streaming by called out: “I’d rather be dead than be you.”
My mom was mortified that anyone would treat her idol so poorly. Standing behind the column, she closed her eyes and began saying the Lord’s Prayer with all her might. She got as far as “Thy will be done!” and a great sense of peace came over here – as if she could feel God’s will being done.
Fast forward about thirty years to the late Sixties or early Seventies. My mom – who had lost her extra weight by age eight and had been slender as a rail ever since – was watching TV with my brother and I when we were young (a rare occurrence), and a show came on in which a handsome business woman was being interviewed about a book she had written. Turns out, it was the same woman, the one who had been the Fat Lady.
During the interview, the interviewer asked her what had turned her life around, what had made her go from being the Fat Lady to being thin and fit. The woman then described the same incident – that a man had called out from the audience that he’d rather be dead than be her. She said this had struck her and had lead to her eventually changing her life
Which just goes to show…you never know when there might have been a six year old praying behind a column.