This old folktale is told in many cultures in a variety of versions but always with the same message. This version is based on one from New Mexico.
There was once a time when a very old grandfather came to live with his son and his son’s wife and their son. The grandfather was too feeble to work in the fields and too forgetful to be helpful in the house. The wife was highly annoyed that there was an extra mouth to feed and an extra bed to be made and she hated the way the old man slurped his soup and spilled things on the clean tablecloth at mealtime.
One day the wife told her husband that she had had enough. She demanded that he send the old man to eat and sleep in the barn with the animals. He was hesitant but he obeyed his wife’s command. He asked his son to take his grandfather out to the barn and give him a horse blanket to stay warm. When the boy, who loved the old man, began to cut the blanket in half with his knife, his father cried out in alarm, “What are you doing?”
“I am cutting the blanket in half,” said the boy, “so that when you are old and I put you out in the barn you will have something to keep you warm.”
The old man’s son than took his father back into the house where he was given a proper bed and a proper blanket and place at the table for the rest of his life.