I was sitting in church (the LDS Church) this Sunday listening to the teacher in Sunday School when a lady spoke up from near the back of the chapel. The teacher could barely hear her comment so he walked the microphone back to her so we could all hear. She was an elderly lady but it looked like she had a good comment. When she got the microphone up to her mouth she recited this poem.
“Once there was a little boy who wouldn't say his prayers,
and when he went to bed at night away up stairs,
his mammy heard him holler and his daddy heard him bawl,
and when they turned the covers down,
he wasn't there at all!
They searched for him in the attic room
and cubby hole and press
and even up the chimney flu and every wheres, I guess,
but all they ever found of him was just his pants and round-abouts
and the goblins will get ya if ya don't watch out!!”
The teacher handled the situation masterfully and moved on with the lesson but several people grinned not understanding what had just happened. I smiled too but immediately I thought of my Grandma Blake. Erma Blake used to recite this poem to me when I was little. Memories of my Grandma flooded into my mind and I smiled as I thought of her in her home with the thick shag carpet and the heater vents in the halls. I remember her playing card games, telling us stories and fixing us meals. I felt a closeness again with Grandma Blake while sitting there at church. I was determined to walk over to this elderly lady and thank her for reciting that familiar poem.
When the lesson was over and people were leaving for their next class, I found her sitting in the pews and asked her about the poem. She was very pleased to start reciting the poem again but started reciting a different poem about Joseph Smith. She stopped half was through and asked if that was the one that she I recited earlier. I could tell she was a little confused about which poem she had given during the lesson. I then told her it was about “Little Orphan Annie”. She immediately began to repeat the correct poem again for me. When she finished, she told me that she learned the poem when she was 8 and that she was now 80. I thanked her again for reminding me of my Grandma and went to my next class. I found out later that this lady had Alzheimer’s disease just like my Grandma Blake.
I am grateful, during this week of thanksgiving, for my Grandma Blake. She worked hard all of her life so that her children, and grand children, could have a good life, good education and a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt close to her today as I remembered her through this poem. I hope I am living up to her hopes for me. I will read these three poems this week to remind me of her.
The Little Orphan Annie