Terminal Question from a 5 Year Old – Wow!
There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children — Nelson Mandela
Terminal question? That sounds fearsome. Surprisingly, it’s not a thriller in the making, and no, I haven’t caught a killer illness—as far as I know. Still, chats between grandpas and grandkids happen constantly. Like the time the darts hit the TV and a thoughtful moment.
Out of the mouths … (of babes and sucklings)
A terminal question came up in a chat between a granddaughter and me. As you’ll know, there aren’t many boundaries in chats with a five-year-old. As ever, we rambled away about almost anything and, somehow, stumbled into the topic of death and dying. In fact, we were nowhere near that topic as we watched the “birdies” after we’d topped up the feeders in our garden.
However, lively young minds chase profound ideas. So, a terminal question needed answering. Our chat went something like this:
Terminal question for Grampa
‘If we didn’t feed the birdies, they’d die.’ She sits on my knee, snuggled in.
‘Maybe. At least when we feed them, they’re not so hungry.’
‘If we don’t feed them, they’ll die.’
‘Perhaps, but they’re pretty good at getting food for themselves.’
‘They eat bugs, and bread, don’t they?’
‘Yes. And we’re sharing healthy food that helps them live.’
‘Like I get.’
‘But they might die one day?’
‘Yes, they might. They will get old and die one day.’’
‘I saw a dead birdie in the park.’ Her face moves from questioning to seriousness.
To the point
‘Grandpa, why do people die?’ Where did that come from?
‘We all die one day, it’s how things are,’ she nods.
‘Will I die?’
‘Well … yes … I think so, but that’s a long way off.’ I have to say. She doesn’t look concerned. ‘I’ll die long before you.’
‘You love me, don’t you?’ She lifts her little head and gazes up into my eyes. Talk about windows of the soul.
‘You know I do.’
‘When you’re dead, will you still love me?’ Wow, that’s a huge philosophical ask.
I give her a wee squeeze and connect again with her large, luminous eyes as they search mine for an answer. I give her a gentle reassuring squeeze. ‘Of course, I will.’
There’s a pause.
‘Will you tell me a story about a princess?’ … Ahh, the magical sign of an accepted answer. On the other hand, a thoughtful feeling stirs … such trust.
© Mac Logan