I read with amazement the other day where there are now something like 19 million ‘Baby Boomers’ alive and hopefully thriving throughout our nation. As a senior citizen, I have to say that right now I am really enjoying my retirement a great deal, but we all tend to worry just a little that as we advance into our so-called ‘golden years’ that we will still be able to maintain our health, live a fairly active lifestyle, and never become a burden to others.
I believe that this little article really sends a powerful message to all of us on this very delicate subject, and can almost guarantee that you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl, tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, and hopefully well into the future!
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 quite often faltered. The little family ate together at the table, but the elderly Grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon and onto the floor, and when he grasped the glass, milk often 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 the food on the floor.’ So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner, and Grandfather would eat alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinner together. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served every meal in a wooden bowl. On the rare occasions when the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat their quietly alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were their sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled some food. All the time that this was going on the four year old sat and watched in silence.
One evening just before supper, the father noticed his son playing with some wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’
Just as sweetly, and very innocently the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up,’ then smiled and went back to his work project.
Those words so struck his parents that they were totally speechless. Then the tears started to stream down their cheeks, and though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done. That very evening the husband took Grandfather’s wrinkled hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days with them he ate every meal with his family, and for some reason, neither husband or wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
On a positive note many of us I’m sure have vividly learned from situations such as this just how important the understanding, love, compassion, and care of family and friends is through all stages of our active lives! With an open mind, these few facts will always come up very clearly if we take the time to let them.
• No matter what happens today or how bad it seems today, life will still go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
• You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
• We should all learn that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’
• We’ve learned that life sometimes gives us a second chance.
• None of us should go through life with a catcher’s mitt in both hands. We need to be able to throw something back sometimes.
• Along the way we learn that if we pursue happiness, it will elude us, but if we focus on our family, friends, the needs of others, our work, and doing the best we can, happiness will find us.
• Whenever we decide something with an open heart, it will usually be the right decision.
• Above all we must learn that: even if we have pains, we don’t have to be one; every day we should reach out and touch someone; that people love the human touch like a hug, a handshake or a pat on the back; and that through the course of each and every day we also still have a lot to learn.