A WOODEN BOWL SPEAKS
This story by an anonymous writer may not apply to many of you who read my articles, but within the story, there is a message that should be relevant to all of us. It can best be expressed by Jesus’ words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”1
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 steps were slow and shaky. The family ate together at the kitchen table each day, but there was little said. The elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing eyesight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon and landed on the floor. When he grasped his drinking glass the contents would spill on the tablecloth and his clothes. The son loved his dad, but this was getting to be too much.
The son and daughter-in-law eventually became irritated with the mess. “You must do something about your father,” said the wife. “I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.” So the son found a small table and set it in the kitchen corner. There, this heartbroken gentleman ate all alone while the wife, his son, and grandson enjoyed their dinner together, laughing and talking as though he wasn’t there. Since this frail old timer had broken several dishes, his food was being served in an old wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. And the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
Their four-year-old son watched it all in silence. Then one evening before supper, the father noticed his son looking through a catalog. Thinking he may be prepping for Christmas the father asked the child somewhat sheepishly, “What are you looking for?” Nonchalantly the boy responded, “I’m looking for wooden bowls for you and Mom to eat your food in when you get old.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to looking in the catalog.
The words struck the parents so deeply that they were speechless. Then tears started began to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both felt the impact of their little son’s words. They knew that a change must be made. That evening, the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the rest 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 got soiled.
Many of you may have seen this with your own eyes. Even with people you grew up with, how they treated their parents. Perhaps some of you may have reached the age where your parents need your love and commitment to ensure that they live out their days being loved and cared for. And perhaps some of you are elderly yourselves and your children are treating you the way you treated your parents. The question is, are you happy if they did that? Jesus followed up His Golden Rule with another good piece of advice when He said that if we are known to be givers, then we can expect to receive the same kind of treatment when it’s your turn to be blessed by the love and care of others.2 – Dr. Robert R Seyda