Thinking About Elder Care And The Golden Rule
By Jack Levine
Here’s a parable originally written in the early 1800’s by the Brothers Grimm….I hope you’ll take a few minutes to absorb its message and discover its deeper meaning.
The Wooden Bowl – A Parable for All Ages
In a time long ago in a far away place, 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. Food fell off his spoon onto the table. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled.
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.”
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 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.
ABOUT JACK LEVINE
After a 25-year tenure as president of Voices for Florida’s Children, a statewide advocacy network, Jack founded 4Generations Institute to promote intergenerational policies and programs that benefit the young, their parents, and more experienced family members…..also known as grandparents.
Jack’s expertise is in developing and delivering messages to the media, public officials, and a diverse network of health, education, human services and social justice advocates on the value of preventive investments in children, parent leadership, grandparent activism, and dignified services for elders.
Through public speaking, seminar and workshop leadership, community conversations and opinion columns, Jack shares information, provides inspiration and leverages advocate enthusiasm in the direction of public policy action.
Jack holds a Master’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University and an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Hunter College.
He serves as Partnership Director for GRAND Media, is a member of Generations United and was a founding member of the Board of Voices for America’s Children.
A graduate of Leadership Florida, Jack was the recipient of that organization’s first Distinguished Alumnus Award. He was named Floridian of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel. Jack and his wife, Charlotte, live in Tallahassee, Florida and have two sons, Josh and Aaron, both graduates of the Florida State University and currently working as educators in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.
Jack Levine, Founder
P.O. Box 10875 Tallahassee, FL 32302