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Exodus 20:12

Honor Your Father and Mother

“Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

I talked to a husband and wife who have deliberately moved south so they don’t have to be around their aging parents. In this case, both husband and wife agree that they can “no longer stand” being around their parents. They are both career people with extremely busy schedules. When the old parents call on the phone, they cut them off because the time is never right. Both young parents are in poor health and two of their three children are experimenting with drugs. They fail to see the connection between their attitudes toward their parents and what is happening in their own lives. - Marsha Drake

Homemade, November, 1984.

A Fairy Tale

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 as often as not, and dribbled a bit of his food on the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son’s wife didn’t like the arrangement.

“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 the 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 rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke. “If you are a pig,” said the daughter-in-law, “you must eat out of a trough.” 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 evening the young man noticed his boy 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.

One of Grimm’s fairy tales, this anecdote has the crudity of the old, simple days.

Unfinished Business, Charles Sell, Multnomah, 1989, pp. 121ff

Longevity

You’ve probably heard about the old fellow who lives to be 100 and attributes his longevity to booze, black cigars, beautiful women—and never going to church. “That kind of impious longevity may be the exception, not the rule,” says Dr. George W. Comstock of Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

In a study of the relation of the social and economic factors to disease, Comstock and his colleagues made an incidental but fascinating discovery. Regular churchgoing and the clean living that often goes with it seem to help people avoid “a whole bagful of dire ailments and disasters.” Constock concludes, “Nice guys to seem to finish last.”

Our Daily Bread