“Grandfather?” The boy whispered. He looked at his great-grandfather propped up on the couch cushions. Grandfather’s eyes were closed, but Asa didn’t think he was really sleeping. He occasionally frowned and muttered low words. “Grandfather,” the boy said slightly louder. “Grandfather, are you asleep?”
Grandfather slowly opened his eyes and looked at the boy. “Oy, oy, child. How’s an old man supposed to get any sleep with such a chatter box around?” Grandfather’s voice was gruff, but Asa grinned. Now this was more like it. Asa loved visiting with his great-grandfather hearing the stories of Grandfather’s glory days. Grandfather told of the building of the temple, when silver was as common as stones. He told of royal visitors who came to verify the wealth and wisdom of Grandfather. He told of political alliances and colossal building projects. Lately though, Grandfather had seemed quiet and sad, not quite so eager to tell the old stories. This afternoon they were sitting on the porch, Grandfather seeking warmth for his aching bones. The golden porch pillars glistened in the sunlight as Asa scooted closer to Grandfather. Now that Grandfather was truly awake, maybe Asa could coax a story from him. A little flattery might put him in the mood.
“Grandfather, you are one smart man.”
“Smart?” Grandfather frowned.
“Well, people say you are the wisest man around.”
“Oy, piffle on wisdom and being smart. The more you know the more trouble it brings. Just chasing wind, just chasing wind.”
“Whew,” Asa thought. “Grandfather certainly is in a bad mood today. Maybe his feet hurt. I’ll have him tell me about the palace and his beautiful gardens. That should cheer him up.”
Asa started rubbing Grandfather’s feet. “Tell me about building your palace.”
“It wasn’t just this palace.” Grandfather raised his voice. “I built many houses. I planted vineyards, gardens and orchards. I designed pools of water and irrigation systems. I had servants and maidens, cattle and peacocks and silver and gold and treasures…”
“Oh, boy,” Asa chuckled, “Grandfather is on a roll now.”
“And I had entertainers, and women and wine and song and whatever my heart desired I helped myself to it. I didn’t hold back on anything, boy. Not one thing.”
Grandfather suddenly stopped talking and Asa looked up at him. Grandfather had a distant look in his eyes, like he didn’t even remember that Asa was there. With a sigh Grandfather softly continued, “It’s all vanity, son. Just chasing wind, just chasing wind. I was wise and wealthy and famous. People came from all over the world to see me. And now I am going to die just like all the rest of them. It is all vanity, Asa my boy, all vanity.”
“But Grandfather,” Asa jumped up, frightened by Grandfather’s dark mood. “Life has been good! You are rich and famous!”
Asa was relieved to see Grandfather smile. “You’re right, son. Life has been good. God has blessed me, but I have done many things wrong. I have not always followed God. And now I am old and dieing and I realize all the gold, power and fame I strove for is just vanity. My strength is leaving, my teeth are broken, my eyes are dim. Now I know that to truly enjoy life one must first follow God. Only God is true and lasting.”
Saddened by the thought of Grandfather dieing, Asa sat next to Grandfather and took his wrinkled hand into his own strong one. “Grandfather, you are world known for your wisdom. Give me a special word of wisdom, something for me to live by.”
“Asa, my boy, remember your creator now in your youth and don’t forget him when you are old. Fear God and keep his commandments. That’s really all you need in life.”
The two sat together in silence a few moments and then Grandfather closed his eyes again. “And now, young man, I really do need a nap.”
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