Different Perceptions
Vida Janulaitis

He was my dad's friend. Whenever we went to the cottage he would come over the next day with a basket of tomatoes, potatoes or some fish that he caught. I would always fix him one drink, one part whiskey three parts ginger ale. That's all he would get, one drink and he knew it. He never asked for more, I never offered more. Why you ask? He was an alcoholic, but a gentle one.

I found out he died when his lawyer called and told me John left his life insurance policy to me. I wasn't obligated but John had stated he would like me to put up his tombstone. He also left me a ticket to Delhi. The letter stated to act on blind trust. Just go, don't ask any questions.

I went.

When I stepped off the plane the heat was wilting. The hotel reserved for me was quite the oasis. The next morning I decided I wanted to go to Calcutta to visit Mother Teresa's tomb.

The bus I was on broke down and in the incredible heat we were left on the roadside until the mechanic came. One of the women on the bus was tending to an ill child. She kept motioning to the child's throat, and through an interpreter I found out the child had strep throat but no medication. The mother couldn't afford it, she thought touching Mother Teresa's tomb would cure her son. I went through my baggage and found the antibiotics I carry everywhere. I handed them over to the mother along with my last bottle of water.

During the night, the mechanic still hadn't come, she came over and placed alongside me a blanket made in a plain weave with such vibrant colours. I tried to refuse but to no avail.

The next morning another bus had come to take us back to where we started and I'd simply had enough. I couldn't figure out what I was doing here and I wanted to go back.

When I reached the comforts of my crazy world there was another letter waiting for me from John. It's like he was there every moment of my trip watching over me.

"One drink is all it takes, especially when it's given without preaching but simply with love.

Sometimes you don't need to travel across the world to follow in the footsteps of sainthood. Sometimes the world of kindness is within."

All this from a man that died from loving a bottle too much. On his tombstone I engraved the following, a quote from Mother Teresa.

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

First published: August, 2003
comments: knobs@iceflow.com