Dad learns Humbling Lesson from His Four-Year-Old Little Boy

As parents, we are often so busy thinking of ways to take care of our children that we give little to no thought about what will happen when we shall need to be taken care of one day. Most folks simply try to avoid thinking about growing old, because, in our minds, old age is naturally associated with death. This is one of the reasons why so many elderly folks find themselves abandoned and sometimes even mistreated by younger people in their families, even their own children. In many ways watching parents grow older is a reminder of our own mortality, and some people don’t find very positive ways to deal with that anxiety. However, the man in this story learned a humbling lesson from his own son about how he should treat his elderly father.

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!

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