Hurray, Daddy, Mum’s back!” shouted little Johnny happily as he heard my key in the lock. As I entered the house, he threw himself into my arms and hugged me tightly.
“Careful, young man, you are going to strangle me! At least let me take my coat off before you jump on me.” I carefully placed my shopping bag on the floor next to me as I tried to get out of his grasp.
“What did you buy, Mum?” he was quick to ask. Without waiting for my answer, he started to look through my bag.
“Slow down, young man! First, tell me how school was today.” It is a question I ask him every day after his return from school.
“Nothing really, no tests or anything significant today,” he replied.
I took the shopping bag and slowly started to empty its contents. As I took things out of the bag, I said, “Oh, I have something to tell you. You should have seen what happened to me today.”
Johnny’s eyes lit up as he curiously asked me what happened. He enjoys listening to all sorts of stories, and he was hoping I would have something special to say.
“Would you believe it, I traveled with an actual giant today.”
“Really? With a real giant? Oh, Mum, that can’t be. Giants don’t actually exist, do they?” he asked with slight disappointment on his face.
“Well, judge for yourself. You can decide after I tell you my story.”
Johnny slowly settled himself into an armchair and bid me to carry on.
“I was traveling to a small town called Prievidza, where I was supposed to give a talk about what we can do to improve our health. The bus was quite crowded; I was happy to get a seat! After sitting down and getting comfortable, I decided to go over my speech. I didn’t even notice the people who were getting on and off the bus.”
“Did a giant get on, Mum? Was it a real giant?” Johnny interrupted me impatiently. “What did he look like? Was he big and strong? Young or old?”
“Well, actually, he was rather small. He appeared to be quite old. His gray head was bent down, and he wore an old coat. He carried a shopping bag with both hands and the tops of mineral-water bottles stuck out above the bag. When he was walking by me, he stopped, smiled, and asked politely, ‘Is the seat next to you available?’”
“Of course, feel welcome to take it. Please sit down,” I replied as I moved a bit toward the window so he could have as much space as he needed. He thanked me and sat down. He secured his bag between his legs so it would not fall down during the ride.
As the bus started moving, I began to read my notes. The man next to me began talking and asking me questions. It soon became evident I was not going to be able to go over my speech. Disappointed, I put the papers back into my bag and gave the man my undivided attention.
He told me about the times when he used to be a miner. He spent 36 years working under the earth in mines. Though his lungs filled with dust and he became sick, he continued his work. As he talked, I looked at his hands. It was evident he had worked hard during his life. He told me he was retired. Then, as quickly as he began to talk, he suddenly stopped.
After a few moments, I asked where he was headed. He said, “Well, I’m going home right now. You know, you’ve got really good mineral water in this town. I went to get some straight from the fountain for my kids.”
I looked at him in disbelief. “You mean you traveled all this distance just for a few bottles of mineral water?”
He replied, “I’m not doing it for myself; there is a children’s foster home in our town. The children are mostly homeless gypsy kids. But Caucasian or gypsy, it doesn’t matter. They’re all God’s children. Anyway, the government support money gets less and less, so every dime is very important. There simply is no money for fruit juice for the children. So I thought I could help them. I don’t go to work anymore. I can get a discounted bus fare because of my age, and your town has really good mineral water. I make a trip here quite often so I can get the kids the mineral water so they don’t have to drink the tap water that is full of chlorine.”
I looked at him closely. His face was wrinkled and his hair silver. His eyes were the color of a bright summer sky. And in his heart was a piece of heaven. I stared at his scarred hands which held the water bottles.
The bus came to a stop, and the man got up. He gave me another of his friendly smiles and lifted the heavy bag with its precious load. He left with a good-bye. My eyes followed him as he walked down the street.
It was then I realized this man was a giant. I had been traveling with a real giant!
“But, Mum,” Johnny complained, “he wasn’t a giant. He was just an ordinary man.”
I hugged Johnny and asked him, “Son, do you think the real size of a person is measured by his height, the width of his shoulders, or the beauty of his face? Shouldn’t the size of one’s heart, in which there is love, readiness to help others, willingness to sacrifice one’s own comfort, time, or money, really count? Do you think I was traveling with a giant?”
Johnny had a thoughtful expression on his face, and I knew he was giving the question much thought.
How about you? Do you think I was traveling with a real giant?