As a child our parents are our whole world. As teenagers, we think we are smarter than our parents. As we grow older, we realize that our parents are not perfect; they can make mistakes too. And when we become parents, we consider our parents to be emotional and financial leeches.
Just a few days back, my father had called me. While talking, he asked me about my work. As I knew he wouldn’t understand social media jargon, I tried to explain to him in as simple a language as I could. But he still wouldn’t understand and asked me to repeat a few times. It finally irritated me and I told him hurtfully, “Papa, why do you want to know when you don’t understand a bit of it.” That same afternoon, my 2-year old came to me with a puzzle. I showed her how to assemble the puzzle. A few minutes later, she asked me to do it again, and so I did. This continued for almost an hour within which I must have assembled the puzzle nearly 10-15 times with utmost patience. I realized belatedly and regretfully what I had done. Where was my patience when I was dealing with my father?
Another instance that I witnessed first-hand. One of my very good friends had flown down to attend to her ailing mother. A few days later, she complained to me, “I get bored sitting with my mother all day. There is nothing to talk to her.” I don’t know what wisdom came over me that I told her, “Just imagine how much you must have bored your mother when you were a child.” I don’t know if she understood the deeper meaning but since that day, she hasn’t complained to me.
It’s funny when we think about it. What we do for our children, we find it abhorrent to do the same for our parents.
Treat your parents with respect and dignity. Remember, kids are remarkably perceptive. They see and listen to things when we think they don’t. Give them good parenting values. What children see is what they do.
Here is a story that I had read as a child. But it struck such a chord within me that I read it again and again lest I forget its humble message.
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, grandfather 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 was spilled or the table cloth was soiled.
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Read this beautiful short story and tell me truthfully if you could avoid shedding a tear or two.