Suffer Me to Come to Thee
When I was a small child my family lived with my Grand Parents for a couple of years. My mother was a nurse and worked long shifts and my father was always on the road working, so my Grandmother and I spent many, many hours together while we stayed with them. My Gandmother, or Nannie as I called her, was a hoot to spend time with. She was a little Irish lady, nearly blind at the time, and totally devoted to family and running her home. She had a sense of humour and loved funny stories, telling jokes, and also had a laugh that was contagious--Nannie lost most of her Irish accent living in Canada over the years, but her belly laugh was robust with accent intact.
Nanny kept a rigorous routine to keep her house in order. She would be up much earlier than the rest of the family and would already have the old wringer washer going with two loads done before she came up to wake me for Kindergarten. My clothes were already laid out, so I just had to get washed up before breakfast and get ready for my school day. And yes, she would check for potatoes growing behind my ears, and would send me back up if I didn't pass her inspection. When she woke me up, she also brought a tray of hot steeped tea with toast and preserves for my Grandfather (Poppa) to have before he came down for breakfast.
After school, she would pick me up and we would both spend an hour at the playground before going home. Once we got home, Nannie would make me a snack and then would give me a spelling bee, or Arithmetic quiz because I was in Kindergarten now and needed to know all these things. She would have supper on the table every night at 7pm and we would all sit for dinner in the kitchen unless it was Sunday. Sunday we would all have to have dinner in the dining room instead. Sunday was good china night whether there was company coming or not.
After dinner, we would gather in the living room and watch TV. Unless there was Hockey on TV, we would watch Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, and many other classic shows of the time. If there was Hockey on, my Poppa had dibs on the game. Which was OK with Nannie, because she had dibs on All Star Wrestling on Saturdays. She really loved watching wrestling, but to this day I can't figure out why.
Before my bedtime, my Nannie would make a cup of Cocoa and bread and butter for me as a bedtime treat. After the treat, it was time for her to take me up and tuck me in. My Nannie was a devout Catholic, so being tucked in also meant kneeling at the foot of the bed to say prayers before climbing in.
We would say three prayers every night, The Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, and a special rhyming prayer that my Nannie taught me. I don't know if the prayer had a name, but I call it Infant Jesus because that is how the prayer starts.
It was during prayers one night when I asked my Nannie a question about the prayer Infant Jesus. There is a line in the prayer that I didn't understand, "Pity mine and pity me/ Suffer me to come to thee/" and I asked her what that part meant. Here's her answer:
"Millions of small children are born into the world and aren't as lucky as you and I. Many go hungry day after day. Many children are born sick and there are no hospitals and doctors to help them. Others are born and suffering because of wars and fighting (Viet Nam war was going on, so Nannie knew I knew something about war from news casts). Jesus has a special place in his heart for all the innocent children that are suffering because of these things, so when we say "Pity mine and pity me/ Suffer me to come to thee" we are asking Jesus to not only help those children, but for us to share part of their burden all of our lives."
Although many years have passed since that night, I have never forgotten Nannie's answer even if I didn't fully understand what she meant at the time. She was a special loving, lovely women, my Nannie. And if she was here now, I'm sure that she would be right alongside me doing a Blogblast for Peace post. She would do it for all the children who are suffering.
For Dona Nobis Pacem (Blogblast for Peace), for my Nannie, and for all the children suffering because of fighting and unrest in this world, I would like to share that little rhyming prayer that my Nannie taught me oh so many years ago. And I admit, I haven't said it in many years either, but I've never forgotten it.
Infant Jesus, meek and mild
Look on me a little child
Pity mine, and pity me
Suffer me to come to Thee
Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee
Heart of Mary, I implore Thee
Heart of Saint Joseph, Pure and Just
In these three Hearts, I place my trust.
My Grandparents, Frank and Kitty Whittaker aka Nannie and Poppa. Photo was for the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper in 1976 to celebrate their 65th Anniversary.