It is possible that you have lots of friends, or maybe you have only a friend or two. Your friends could be children, or they could be adults, or maybe your friends are dogs or cats or any other kind of animal. Yes, all of this could certainly be true. But have you ever had a plant as a friend? Have you ever been friends with a flower or a tree? Either way, this is a story about a grandfather who had a very special friend.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who lived alone in a small shack. The old man didn't have children or grandchildren. He didn't have a wife, nor did he have friends. He lived all by himself.
Every day at dusk, when the birds were chirping from their perch in the treetops, as the sun set and the sky grew dark, the old man would sit outside his shack and talk to the dandelion that grew in his garden.What did he say to the dandelion? The old man used to tell the dandelion old tales, so old that no one could remember if they really happened, and the dandelion would listen silently to the old man's stories.
One day, a group of children walked past the shack. They heard the old man talking and telling his stories, but they did not see anyone listening. The children stopped and stared at the old man.
"What is wrong with this old man?" they wondered. "Who is he telling stories to?" They listened closely to the old man's tales. They did not know if the stories were true or not, but they found them to be fascinating. The children remained standing there listening to the stories until the sky turned black and the old man went back into his shack.
The next day, the children returned for more stories. They remained at a distance but paid close attention. After the old man finished telling another old tale, one of the girls called out, "Granddad! Who are you telling your stories to?" "Granddad? Me?" the old man wondered. Up until then he had not noticed the children who stood there listening to his stories, and so their presence came to him as a surprise. "No, I'm not a grandfather. I am just an old man," he said. "I have no children or grandchildren. I have no wife and no friends." "So who are you telling your stories to?" asked one of the children. "I tell them to this dandelion growing down here, right next to me," the old man replied. The children looked and for the first time noticed the small dandelion growing in the old man's garden. How strange, they thought – telling stories to a dandelion. Why?
"He knows how to listen," answered the old man, responding to the children's bewildered gaze.
The next day, when the children came back to the shack, the old man invited them to sit next to him. They sat down and, along with the dandelion, listened to the old tales. And so, day after day, the children returned and listened to Granddad's stories. That is what they called him: Granddad.
One morning, while the children were at school, Granddad went out into his yard and noticed that the dandelion had changed. Its small yellow petals disappeared and in their place were fuzzy white hairs.
"You've aged," said Granddad to the dandelion. "I've aged too."
A gust of wind dispersed the fuzzy white hairs off the dandelion and scattered its seeds in every direction. Granddad looked at the white hairs flying in the air and took a big, deep breath.
The next day, when the children arrived at the shack to hear Granddad's stories, they found neither Granddad nor the dandelion, and so they never went back to the shack again. Little did they know that one day, dozens of new dandelions would blossom from the seeds that the wind scattered.
The children grew up into adults. They left their homes and built new homes here or there. The dandelion was forgotten. The granddad was forgotten, too. Nevertheless, his stories, just like the dandelion's seeds, were scattered along with the children who grew up.
Even today, there are surely children listening to the old tales; so old, no one knows if they ever really happened.
Translated from Hebrew by Annette Appel.