Many of the Brothers Grimm’s stories were quite horrendous, but among them were sometimes tales with strong moral messages such as this one.
Once there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled.
When he ate he clattered the silverware distressingly, missed his mouth with the spoon more often than not, and dribbled his food on the tablecloth.
He lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife didn’t like the arrangement at all.
‘‘I can’t have this,’’ she said. ‘‘It interferes with my right to happiness.’’
So she and her husband took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to a corner of the kitchen.
There they set him on a stool and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking at the table with wistful eyes.
One day his hands trembled more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke.
‘‘If you are a pig, you must eat out of a trough,’’ said the daughter-in-law.
So they made him a little wooden trough and he got his meals in that.
These people had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond.
One day the father noticed his son playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing.
‘‘I’m making a trough,’’ he said, smiling up for approval, ‘‘to feed you and Mamma out of when I get big.’’
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn’t say anything. Then they cried a little.
They then went to the corner and took the old man by the arm and led him back to the table.
They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded when he clattered or spilled or broke things.
Thomas Carlyle said, ‘‘Show me the man you honour and I will know what kind of man you are.’’
I am somewhat concerned about the lack of honour and respect in our society, and not only among the young.
Jesus said ‘‘Treat others as you would have them treat you.’’
Who among us knows what faculties we might lose as we age?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be assured that we would be treated with due respect in our failing years?
I want to be treated with dignity and respect and accordingly I must treat others likewise.
- George Deeble, Euroa Christian Fellowship