INSTANT WISDOM > SPECIAL > STORIES
05/18/04

The Wooden Bowl

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 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. 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.

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