28: For My Grandson

28: For My Grandson

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

For My Grandson

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”

~Author Unknown

I heard a story in church one Sunday about a family of Eastern European refugees, driven from their home by invading soldiers, who decide their only chance of escaping the horrors of war is to make it through the mountains that surround their village. They are sure they will find safety in a neighboring neutral country, if only they can make it over the pass. The grandfather is not well, however, and the days of his mountain hiking are long past.

“Leave me behind,” he pleads. “The soldiers won’t bother with an old man like me.”

“Yes, they will,” warns the son. “It will mean your grave.”

“We can’t leave you behind, Grandpa,” implores the daughter. “If you won’t go, then we won’t either.”

The old man finally relents, and the family, which numbers some ten people of varying ages, including the daughter’s year-old baby girl, sets off after dark toward the blue-black mountain range in the distance. As they walk along silently, each takes a turn carrying the baby, whose weight makes travel more difficult, as they wind their way up the steep mountain pass.

After several hours, the grandfather sits down on a rock and hangs his head. “Go on without me,” he says in a low voice. “I can’t make it.”

“Yes, you can,” his son implores. “You have to.”

“No,” says the old man. “Leave me here.”

“Come on,” says the son. “We need you — it’s your turn to carry the baby.”

The old man looks up and sees the tired faces of the others in the group. He looks at the baby wrapped in a blanket and being carried now in the arms of his thin, thirteen-year-old grandson.

“Yes, of course,” says the old man. “It’s my turn. Come, give her to me.” He stands up and takes the baby in his arms and looks into her small, innocent face. Suddenly, he feels a renewed strength, and a powerful desire to see his family find safety in a land where war is a distant memory.

“Come on,” he says with a note of determination in his voice. “Let’s go. I’m fine now. I just needed to rest. Let’s keep moving.” They all headed up the hill again with the grandfather carrying the baby.

The family reached safety that night, and everyone who started the long journey through the mountains finished it, including the grandfather.

~Floyd Wickman and Terri Sjodin
Chicken Soup for the Father’s Soul

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