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
very difficult for him. Peas rolled off his fork onto the floor. When he
grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law soon became very irritated with the
mess. "We must do something about grandfather." said his son. "I've
really had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and all that 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 that the couple had for him were sharp admonitions
when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with
wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little
wooden bowl for you and Mama to eat your food when I grow up
and you grow old." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck his 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 very 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
his family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed
to care any longer when a fork dropped, a plate was broken, milk
spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.