Please allow me to share this modern day parable with you. It struck a chord with me in light of the recent change in our family.
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table.
But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about father,” said the son. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl!
When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
My how clearly children can see things.
Since October 7, 2009, Kathy and I have been blessed with the opportunity to share our home with our granddaughter, Olivia, and her parents, Antea & Dave. Each day it brings me great joy to spend some time with Olivia. Her infectious smile and cheerful personality not only buoy my spirits but more importantly remind me when I become un-centered, and a little too affected by work or “the worries of the world”.
If you are fortunate to have a young child in your life, look, listen, and learn…often. If you do not have a child in your life on a regular basis, I invite you to quietly notice them when you are out and about in the world. Kids hold onto their innocent acceptance and honesty so gracefully.