alias Granny B.
(this is a special story written for my grandson Caleb on his 6th birthday)
Once there was a rich and powerful king who lay dying. In the quiet moments just before he took his last breath, he saw his life flash before him . . . and shuddered. He called for his son.
“Yes father?” the prince asked.
“Son, I am dying. It is too late for me,” the king said. “But it is not too late for you. Today I meet my Maker and I am terrified.”
“Terrified? Father you have never been afraid,” the prince answered.
“I’ve lived every day of my life in fear. My father left me his kingdom and I was terrified someone might try to take it from me. I could trust no one – not even your mother or brothers and sisters. I’ve forced the villagers to forge my swords, build my castles, amass my army and plunder my treasure so that I could remain king. But I was always painfully alone and afraid. I will not do to you what my father did to me. Denounce my kingdom. Choose a better one.”
“Then you must know this: From this day forward, evil men will desire all you have. You will spend the rest of your life fighting to preserve a kingdom that will ultimately fail you. You will loose your life fighting to save what I have left you. And I have left you only ashes. You will learn to trust no one, even your own wife and children. When you are about to die, you too will be afraid. You must know now that everything I leave you has been bought at the cost of other men’s lives. I took their labor. I took their gold. I took their fair sons. My subjects hate me and they will turn against you.”
“Why do you tell me all this now?” the prince asked. “What am I to do father?”
“Go into the village and find the aged mother of a bed-ridden son,” the king said. “She is my mother and her son, my brother, is the true king. Long ago I made sure he would never reign. Together they will teach you all you need to know.”
Then the king cried out in anguish, “Oh God, forgive me. Have mercy on my soul.”
At that moment, the king died and the prince was alone. He was not sad for he feared his father. His mother and brothers and sisters had all been beheaded by the king. He did not know he had a living grandmother and an uncle in the village.
Under the cloak of night the prince left the guarded castle and went to the village. He found the aged mother and her bed-ridden son in a small hut with a warm blazing fire.
When the prince’s grandmother saw him enter her home, she instantly recognized her grandson, smiled and embraced him. The prince had never been embraced and recoiled.
“Don’t be afraid,” his grandmother said. “You are safe here.” Then she invited him into the back room where his uncle rested in a fresh bed of straw. “This is your uncle. His name is Caleb. Though he can not see, hear, speak or move - he has many gifts.”
So the prince sat next to his uncle and waited. His father’s brother could not respond to the prince’s questions. Yet there was something about being in Caleb’s presence that made the prince feel at peace for the first time in his life.
Caleb could not speak a word; yet as the prince reached out and touched the hand of his silent uncle, he felt a glimmer of tenderness fill his heart for the first time. Then as the moments turned into hours the prince felt his heart grow lighter and lighter and warmer and warmer.
One day the prince’s grandmother grew ill and could not raise her head from her bed. The prince was afraid. He went to his grandmother’s side in despair.
“Will you care for your uncle after I die?” the prince’s grandmother asked quietly.
“Yes,” the prince answered.
“Aren’t you afraid?” the prince asked.
“No,” his grandmother answered. “Because of the love I have for Caleb I have felt the love of God. I know that God has prepared a grander kingdom for me with a blazing fire of warmth. There I will never be alone, afraid or sick again.”
Then as the prince embraced his grandmother, she took her last breath and relaxed into a smile with her eyes opened toward heaven. The prince wept until he could weep no more. Then he went to his uncle’s room and knelt by his side.
“Your mother is dead,” the prince said.
“She will be waiting for us when it is our turn,” the prince said as he stroked his uncle’s brow. Don’t be afraid. I’m here. I will never leave you. I will care for you. I love you Caleb.”
In the days that followed the prince opened his father’s treasure hoard and returned the riches to the villagers. He dispersed the army and sent the fair sons back to their mothers. He turned the dark castle into a loving home where he cared for Caleb and all the other sick or orphaned children in his valley.
When the people from the village were troubled, sick, or in despair they would come to the castle and sit with Caleb for a spell. Though no words were spoken, Caleb would fill their soul with light and hope. Then they could go back into the dark world with the warmth of his love burning brightly inside them.
Soon the prince married and had children of his own. He and his wife brought more and more children into their home and never turned any one away. No evil men desired the prince’s kingdom because they saw no gold or power to seize or destroy.