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A Gift of Love    by Tony Cointreau order for
Gift of Love
by Tony Cointreau
Order:  USA  Can
Prospecta Press, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton

Too Often Unheard and Unheeded Message Love is everything ...

How can this blue blooded heir to a wine fortune preach love, understanding, and compassion? This guy grew up in the chateaus of France and the upper crust of Manhattan. Not only that, he spent twelve years caring for the poorest of poor in Calcutta and New York City's Gift of Love Hospice for persons dying of AIDS. He would have served more were it not for his own battle with peripheral neuropathy. What's with this guy?

Understanding Tony is like understanding Mother Teresa and the many others with a calling to serve. He couldn't stand the suffering he witnessed around him and volunteered at Gift of Love. This rich man scrubbed floors, peeled potatoes, changed diapers, and took care of those who often had nothing but misery, addiction, and disease. He or someone else always stayed with the dying until they passed. Having toured with Guy Lombardo as a singer, Tony would sometimes even sing to his charges and for the good sisters.

He started doing this in the earliest periods of the AIDS hysteria when no one knew what caused it, when it was thought to be carried in the air, or spread by any contact. Patients were avoided, even in hospitals. Even doctors didn't want to touch them. The sisters reacted otherwise. What he learned from the selflessness of Mother Teresa and her order affected his whole life and those around him.

He also speaks of special friendships with Ethel Merman and Lee Lehman and how his beliefs affected them as well. He bemoans the fate of those such as Robert Lehman (Lee's husband) of Lehman Brothers who valued mostly wealth and possessions. Robert felt in his declining years that inactivity would prolong his life and make him live forever. Didn't work either for him or Lehman Brothers.

No, because of Mother Teresa and her teachings, Tony knew better. The little nun accepted all religions and respected all forms of higher being as valid. She knew life goes on after death. Her goal was to make those she served know it as well and to look forward to their inevitable deaths. They most often died happy and expecting a better life beyond. Tony learned along with them and believes it as well.

In a society besotted with violence and negativity, this seems an impossible message. The attitude and beliefs he preaches, however, could and would make a world of difference for us all. Per Mother Teresa, 'We can do no great things only small things with great love.'

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