Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Poem for the Caregiver

The Wooden Bowl

The affects of aging may be inevitable, but these do not lessen a person’s value. In contemporary Western culture, the young are considered more valuable than the elderly. This is not the case in every society, nor has it always been this way in our culture. The following bible verse appears to be more consistent with many Middle Eastern cultures and African-American cultures where older adults are more highly revered and valued. Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. – Leviticus 19:32

Most of us have been told to respect our elders ever since we were children. What does it mean to respect our elders? It may be easier to understand the meaning and application of the word respect by first looking at the word disrespect. Disrespect includes things such as ignoring someone’s thoughts or feelings, being condescending, being neglectful, forcing your opinion, or being rude or selfish. Now consider the opposites. There is a strong connection between the words honor, obey and respect. As you provide care for your aging parents remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. –Luke 6:31. Isn’t that really what it is all about? The Wooden Bowl story clearly makes the point.


A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and 4-year-old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight 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 the 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 with grandpa," said the son. "I have had enough of spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor." So the husband and the wife set a small table in the corner.

There grandpa ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed their dinner. Since Grandpa had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandpa'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 his fork or spilled food. The 4-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 wooden bowl for you to eat your food when you grow old." The 4-year-old smiled and went on with his work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no words were spoken, both knew what must be done. That evening the husband took the grandfather's hand and gently led him to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. For some reason, neither the husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled. – Author Unknown

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