The Wooden Bowl

from the book: The Ten Commandments by: Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Once upon a time, when families lived in extended units, with children and grandparents living together, there was a home in which a man lived with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. The meals they ate together were always a wonderful time of sharing. As the years went by, the man's health began to decline. He couldn't help as much around the house, and his hands began to shake. He sometimes would spill his food on the table or even on the rug.

One day when he was shaking particularly badly the spoon he was holding caused his bowl to break, spilling the food all over. The son said to his father in anger and frustration, "Dad, I can't take this any longer. Can't you control yourself? You will just have to eat by yourself in your room." And so the son gave his father a wooden bowl that could not break, and for every meal would bring food to the father's room.

Time went by and the meals at the dining-room table were much quieter and neater. The old man was very lonely eating his meals in his room, but he didn't say anything because he didn't want to make his son even more upset.

Several weeks later the son came home and found one of his children making something out of wood.

"What are you making?" he asked.

"I am making a wooden bowl," answered the young boy.

"It is very nice, but what will you use it for?"

"Oh, it is not for me, Dad, it is for you."

"For me? Well, maybe we can keep fruit in it," said the dad. The son answered, "It is not for you yet, Dad. I am saving it for when you get older and your hands begin to shake. When I see it is too hard for you to eat with us, then I will give it to you so you can eat in your room."

The father silently walked into the house and went to his own father's room. "Dad, I'm so sorry for what I have done. How many years did you take care of me, assuring me that I would grow out of my clumsiness? Never once did you make me eat a meal in my room; and look at what I have done to you. Can you ever forgive me for not giving you the respect you deserve?"

That night the old man returned to the dining-room table. Though the table was a little less quiet and a little less neat, the family was whole.