Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Wooden Bowl

A different kind of love story for Valentine's day. A fable of love

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. Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives. The wise parent realizes that every day that building blocks are being laid for the child's future.

Let us all be wise builders and role models. Take care of yourself, ... and those you love, ... today, and everyday!

The fable can be interpreted in a number of ways and will be said to mean different things by different people, Its current Internet-driven popularity is perhaps due to the identification of many with its" plight of the elderly" element. With more of us fated to Live longer, a stronger incentive to think ahead and picture those days exists now than ever did before, The dependent grandfather banished from the family table becomes a symbol for where we ourselves might end up.

Yet others will perceive this fable in an "a little child shall lead them “Light, seeing it as an example of how wisdom falls from the mouths of babes. The adults in the story fail to recognize the heartlessness of their actions until a child unwittingly points it unspoiled often have a dearer view of the world than the grown ups around out, proving them, that the young and unspoiled have a better view of life than many adults

Others pick up on the "do unto others" admonition, a reminder that depends little upon the age or infirmity of the one wronged in the tale; it merely requires that someone be mistreated in a manner that could later befall the one doing the wronging. The injustice is thus perceived as such only when another very innocently offers to do it to the oppressor once the tables are turned.

Still more will see it as a "Little pitchers have big ears" warning, taking it as an example of how easily small children will Learn what they see and will grow up to repeat parental acts in their own lives, Bad behavior, thus discouraged in parents who might otherwise feel free to Let loose and "be themselves,"

Others will take it as a "people versus material goods" tale, a reminder that those we love are infinitely more valuable than any possessions, no matter how prized. Does a dropped bowl or a dirtied floor matter so very much when measured against the worth of a cherished member of the family? 

Origins: Versions of this e-mailed heart-wrenched have been on the Internet at least since 1999, but the story itself is centuries older. Leo Tolstoy'; (1828-1910) ''The Old Grandfather and the Grandson" describe the degree to which an elderly grandfather has become all outcast in his own family although a rendition of this tale first appeared in the Brother Grimm's Book  of Tales which were variously published between 1812 and 1822. 

These fairy tales were folktale painstakingly collected by the Brother Grimm, stories, which had been part of the oral tradition of the day. These were a compendium of tales from fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it seems this tale has been in circulation from around 1535. 

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