The Frail Old Man

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert – May 21, 2002

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.

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 the building blocks are being laid for the child’s future.

The brothers Grimm - KHM 078
  1. rev12v11 said:

    Too beautiful! Your stories bring tears to my eyes most mornings! 😉 Keep it up!!


  2. It’s so frustrating, it’s impossible to read your blog without hitting like!!


  3. James said:

    My parents are both 80 and still in reasonably good health. I’m 58, my oldest kids (twins) are 26, and my grandson is 3. Makes me think.


    • I’m right there with you, except for the GrandKids…. this is an eye opener to me too!!! Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T


  4. Tears… I was a caregiver for many years for various family members and I have questioned if I was good enough. Striving to love freely and unconditionally in all things is what I try but sometimes it is tough. Many times we do not see how our actions affect others until it is too late but hopefully we can make corrections along the way. If we cannot change or remedy mistakes made in the past, at least we can change how we see and do things in the future.

    I need to get a tissue box ready when I read your posts I guess… 😀 . Take care and thank you.


  5. You got me, Kenny T! One of the best Smoothies I’ve had in quite a while! Enjoy this Wednesday. 🙂


  6. Thanks for yet another wonderful story about the things that most matter in our lives. We should do unto others as we would have them do unto us.


  7. This is wonderful! 😀 I don’t remember this Grimm’s tale, but I can picture it very clearly.

    Even though I don’t have kids, I find this really sobering. How often do I get irritated with old people on the road, or in the store? One day I will be that age, Lord willing, and will want folks to be patient and helpful with me. 🙂


  8. Reblogged this on The Written Nerd and commented:
    Another great post by another great WordPress blogger!

    We’ll all be old one day, Lord willing. So today, let’s treat the elderly as we would want to be treated: With patience, kindness, and love.


  9. Debbie said:

    Boy did this tug at my heart. We manage a senior park. I have seen so many of our seniors become victims of their children. Sad.


    • But, the Seniors have you….. and that is good! My Mother-inlaw is living in a Senior home and when my wife and I go in for a visit, we visit with everybody. It really is fun to talk with them.


  10. kenny, i always make sure to read these at a time or place i can have a little teary moment. 🙂 one of my heart’s desires is that my children grow up learning to respect, be comfortable around and have compassion for the elderly. love this story. heartbreaking and motivating.


  11. George Hayward said:

    This was great!! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂


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