I was angry at my mother for the unpardonable sin of expecting me to eat some weird vegetable (and anything other than corn was in the "weird" category), so I decided to run away from home.
I was in no hurry to leave, though, so I waited until the next time we visited Jake, my grandfather.
Jake made sympathetic noises while listening to my tale of woe. When I told him that I was going to run away, he said nothing to discourage me. He just suggested that if I was going on the road, I might need to take some things with me to tide me over until I found a new place to live.
He even got out a suitcase and began to pack for me.
"Let's see, you'll need a flashlight so that you can see in the dark." (This didn't scare me; I wasn't afraid of the dark.)
"You'll also need a blanket to keep you warm. You'll need some clean clothes, and you should pack some food in case you get hungry."
Into the suitcase went jars of peanut butter and jelly, and a loaf of bread. "You know, if you pack a can opener, you could also take some cans of food. They don't need refrigeration, and they'll last longer." Into the suitcase he placed about 20 cans of food (corned-beef hash, Spaghetti-O's, etc.). The suitcase was looking pretty full.
"You'll need some fruit," he said. Quarts of pears, peaches, and applesauce that he had canned himself were put on the pile in the suitcase. He added towels and a washcloth, along with a bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo, reminding me that I needed to keep clean.
Finally, my grandfather thought I had everything I might need. He had a hard time closing the suitcase. He lifted it up and carried it to his front door.
"OK, you're all set. All you have to do is pick up the suitcase and you'll be on your way. Don't forget to write."
He gave me a hug and a kiss and held the door open for me. I went to pick up the suitcase and couldn't even come close to lifting it.
"Can't you carry the suitcase for me, Jake?" I asked.
"No, honey, I have to stay here."
I don't know how many times I tried to lift that suitcase, but it just wouldn't budge. Finally, when he realized that my anger was spent, Jake said, "Maybe you should wait until you're strong enough to lift that suitcase, before you run away from home."
That was all he said, but I nodded in agreement.
For a long time afterward he kept that suitcase by the door. I remember trying to lift it a few more times, but I wasn't able to. He finally unpacked it and put it away.
When I went away to college, though, Jake gave me a suitcase - filled with things I would need - as a present. It reminded me of this story and made me laugh, but I was touched, too. It was my grandfather's way of saying that now I was ready to leave.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society