When we are younger, we take care of our children and we do so without any thought that someday, they will be taking care of us as well. It’s a reality that happens to far too many adults, however, when the parents move in and they need some assistance. Suddenly, the mother or father that was taking care of you for all those years is now completely reliant upon you. It can be a real difficulty to take care of an aging parent but at the same time, it’s a responsibility and even a privilege. The problem is, it takes some people a little more time to learn it than others. This son learned it in a way that will stick with him for the rest of his life.
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and a four-year-old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together nightly at the dinner table.
But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating rather difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass often milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. We must do something about grandfather, 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 at the dinner table. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. Sometimes when the family glanced in grandfather’s direction, he had a tear in his eye as he ate 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 from 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.
Take care of yourself and those you love, today, and every day!