Considering the terrible instances of elder abuse we discussed here earlier in the week, this story from the Brothers Grimm is an antidote.
By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
There was once a very old man whose eyes had grown dim, his ears deaf, and whose knees shook. When he sat at the table hardly able to hold his spoon, he'd spill soup on the tablecloth and a little would even run out of his mouth.
This disgusted his son and his daughter-in-law and so finally the old grandfather had to sit in a corner behind the stove. They have him his food in an eathenware bowl and not even enough at that. He used to look sadly toward the table and tears would come to his eyes.
One day his trembling hands couldn't even hold the bowl and it fell to the floor and broke to pieces. The young woman scolded but he said nothing and merely sighed. For a few farthings she then bought him a wooden bowl and he had to eat out of that.
As they were sitting thus, his little four-year-old grandson was fitting some little boards together on the floor. “What are you doing there?” asked his father.
“I'm making a trough for father and mother to eat out of when I'm grown up,” answered the child.
The husband and wife looked at one another for awhile, finally began to weep and at once brought the old grandfather to the table. From then, they always let him eat with them and they didn't say anything even when he did spill a little.
The Brothers Grimm were born in Germany – Jacob in 1785, Wilhelm in 1786. They grew up to work together as linguists, cultural researchers and collectors of legends and folk stories they published in several books throughout their lives.
When I was a kid, my book of Grimm's Fairy Tales was among my favorites, read again and again over many years (and now, occasionally, too).
Some of our most beloved children's stories were originally from Grimm: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood and more.
Even in the Grimm's time, the tales were already old, having been handed down from medieval times and before which tells you a bit about what we are up against in combating elder abuse if it's been around that long.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mary B Summerlin: Letter to My Body