22 January 2018
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Can good come
from selfishness?

During a trip to Lithuania a few years ago, Boris went to the North Lithuanian city of Siauliai to see his grandmother’s sister before she died. At 97 she was the oldest surviving member of his family.

By Boris Vytautas Bakunas

I want to tell you a true story.  During a trip to Lithuania a few years ago, I drove to the city of Siauliai to see my grandmother’s sister before she died.  At 97 she was the oldest surviving member of my family.

My reason for visiting her was not only selfish, but it was based on an illusion.  By meeting her, I believed that I could reconnect in some mysterious way with my grandmother whom I had loved very much.  My motive was selfish because I visited the old woman so I could feel good.  I did it for me, not for her.

I didn’t really expect any reaction greater than customary courtesy and perhaps even mild interest.  Was I surprised!

When I entered the small cottage where she lived with her daughter and her son-in-law, I saw a table decked with delicacies, juice, brandy, and beer.  A bright red candle had been lit in my honor.  The room was so small that we had to huddle closely together around the table.  My great aunt and my cousin sat beside me.

I quickly sensed that age had taken a toll on her faculties.  “How nice it is to see you again,” she kept saying over and over as if I had just walked through the door.

As I looked at her worn, wrinkled face, battered by years of hard living, I saw a gleam in her eyes that beckoned back to the beautiful young girl she had once been.  Her eyes shone like drops of morning dew after a cold night.  All the while I was there, she kept looking gently at my face.  Her soft sliver of a smile threw gentleness and love my way.  I thought of an aged Mona Lisa.

After my cousin and her husband went into the garden, my cousin asked, “Do you know why my mother kept staring at you like that?”

“No, tell me,” I said.

“She thinks that you are her son, and you’ve just returned home from a trip.” 

Her son had died years ago.

Was I disappointed?  Did I feel bad that I had come too late for my great aunt to recognize me, or even remember that I existed?

Not at all!  Instead my heart surged with amazement at this mysterious life we lead.  I had made this journey out of selfishness – to satisfy my own desire.  I wanted this meeting for myself, not for her.

But my selfishness, born out of the illusion that I could once again feel the glow of my grandmother’s love, had created joy in the heart of another human being, a joy also born out of the illusion that I was her long lost son.

I did see my grandmother’s love once again.  I saw it in her aged sister’s eyes.  And she saw her son. 

Even out of illusion and selfishness good can come.  What a mysterious existence we live!

Category : Featured black / The world in Lithuania
  • andybuildz

    Doesn't get any better than that!! What a great son you turned out to be :)

    February 22 2015
    • Boris Bakunas

      And thank you for taking the trouble of telling me that the article reminded you of your travels to Lithuania, Gail. What a wonderful feeling it is to know that one has been able to share and inspire good feelings in others.

      May 13 2013

      • Thank you, Boris, what a mysterious existence we live…good can come !

        May 13 2013
        • Gail VanWart

          Beautiful!. It reminded me of my travels to Lithuania in search of a part of myself I had never met. I hope I managed to give something in return as well. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

          May 13 2013

          • I have yet to make that connection. Thanks for the inspiration

            May 13 2013
            • Boris Bakunas

              Thank you, Rimgaudas Vidziunas and Kestutis Eidukonis. All of us sometimes fall prey to negative thoughts. Your kind words have lifted my spirits. Our people are scattered across the earth. We need to encourage each other to thrive both as individuals and as people who share a common heritage.

              May 13 2013

              • […] – Posted by admin Boris went to Siauliai to see his grandmother’s sister before she died. Can good come from selfishness? By Boris Vytautas […]

                May 12 2013

                • Boris what a great article – you have always had a great way with words.

                  May 11 2013

                  • great story…lesson learned 'do for others as you would have them do to you'. Now I learned that somewhere. Oh Yes, the 'Ten Commandments'

                    May 10 2013

                    • […] Can good come from selfishness? […]

                      May 10 2013


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