You know those emails that people send to each other that tell you to hold onto your fork? Some are told by an elderly aunt, some tell the story of a preacher and a few are written about family members with a terminal disease.
The story is usually about someone telling other people to keep their fork after the main course at a community meal, potluck dinner or church social. When the meat and potatoes have been eaten, the idea is that you have to keep your fork, because dessert's on the way, and you need the fork to feed yourself dessert!
My daughter has a girlfriend, Shanta, whose grandfather was in a concentration camp in Germany during WWII. He always hung onto his fork...one watery, skimpy meal after another, one tragic day after another, one horror-filled week after another, in that terrible place where he spent so many days and weeks and months of his life.
Somehow, he managed to survive the death camps and the gas chambers with his fork in his hand. When his family asked him why he so stubbornly held onto his fork through all of that wretched time, he replied, "Well, you see, as long as I kept my fork in my hand, I believed that there must be another meal coming."
His granddaughter has framed her Opa's fork and it hangs on a wall in her home. It reminds everyone in her family that there are much worse things that could be happening. It also reminds her that even if those much worse things actually happened, it's more than possible for everyone to survive.
My daughter tells me that when she receives yet another "Keep Your Fork" e-mail from a well-meaning friend, she can't help but remember Shanta's Opa's fork, hanging on the kitchen wall in a delicate shadowbox frame.
"A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart." ~ Author Unknown