Written and illustrated by De Dorman
© 2004 Derechos
(This true story takes place in southwest Texas in 1932.)
In a small southwestern town not far from Mexico, lived a lively little nine year old girl named Tomasa Benitez. She lived with her abuelita Maria and her mami and papi in a small house just outside town.
Tomasa's favorite time of day was waking up to the sound of the rooster crowing next door. That's the time when Gabby, her pet chicken, pecked at her hand until she would "rise and shine." Gabby wasn't just a pet for Tomasa to feed and water, she was also a beloved friend who followed Tomasa almost everywhere she went. If Tomasa wanted to play in the sand box, Gabby was close behind clucking joyfully along the way. There were a few times when she tried venturing off to school with Tomasa but she was quickly and gently shooed back home.
It was harvest time for the melons so Papi and Mami were already working when Tomasa got ready for school. Abuela always saw to it that Tomasa had everything she needed before she left for school, especially lots of hugs and kisses!
"Only two more days and school will be out for the summer, Abuela!" Tomasa replied as she gave her grandma her morning hugs and kisses. "Then I can play with Gabby all day long and help you around the house."
"Tomasita," Grandma warned, "Be careful walking to school and remember to stay in the shade as much as you can. It looks like it could be very hot today.
"OK, Abuela, I'll be careful." Tomasa answered as she grabbed a tortilla and was out the door before Gabby knew what had happened. Tomasa knew that her abuela loved her and always prayed for her.
The last two days seemed to go by ever so slowly, but school was finally over for the summer!
"Today I can spend some time with Gabby," thought Tomasa. "Now Gabby, what do you want to do?" asked Tomasa as she picked her hen up. "How about playing in the sand?" Gabby responded with only a cluck and a slight ruffle of her white feathers.
Tomasa could smell breakfast being prepared so she put Gabby down, washed her hands and quickly went to the kitchen table. Tomasa knew to wait until Grandma told Jesus " thank you" for the food before she ate.
"Grandma loves Jesus very much. Maybe one day," thought Tomasa, "I will, too." But playing seemed to be the only thing on her mind this morning and soon she was outside with Gabby following closely behind.
The sand box that they played in was actually an old tractor tire that Papi put in the back yard and filled with dry desert sand. Tomasa could play for hours in the cool of the morning or in the late evening when the sun went down. She liked the feel of the sand on her bare feet. Gabby would sometimes hop inside the old tire and scratch around for bugs, but for some reason Gabby wanted nothing to do with that tire today! She squawked and clucked so much until Tomasa finally took her to her pen, hoping that she would soon settle down.
"Gabby," she said as she opened the door, "Why are you acting this way? When you settle down I'll come back and get you, OK?" There was so much noise from the hen that Grandma looked out from the kitchen window to see if there was a problem, but Tomasa reassured her that everything was fine. After telling Tomasa to call if she needed anything, Grandma was soon busy again cleaning the kitchen.
With her mind still on playing in the sand box Tomasa reached down to remove her shoes. Just for a brief moment she thought she heard a noise coming from the tire. After looking around and seeing nothing, she concluded that the noise probably came from the neighbor's house. She quickly tossed aside her shoes and headed for the tire and the cool sand that awaited.
As she stepped into the sand she heard the noise once again, but before she could get away a big rattlesnake leaped out and bit her on the left knee, then quickly left the scene. He had been hiding inside the tire all along! Screams of pain and terror came from little Tomasa and instantly her grandma ran out to see what had happened!
The moment Abuela looked at her knee, she knew that it was a rattlesnake bite. She also knew that action had to be taken quickly before the poison reached Tomasa's heart. A string was found and tightly tied just above Tomasa's knee to keep the venom from traveling to her heart.
"Tomasa, listen to me," Grandma said in a calm voice, "we must get to Doctor Salvador's right away!" She swooped Tomasa into her arms as she cried out to her Heavenly Father for help.
The doctor was several blocks away but they arrived within minutes. Even still, Tomasa's knee red and swollen from the poison and her temperature was dangerously high.
"We must act quickly, Maria!" began Doctor Salvador. "I have to lance the bite area and draw the venom out but I have so little here to work with. Go as fast as you can! Bring me an animal that we can use to draw this poison out of the little girl before it's too late!
Even though they had only owned one animal, there was no question in Grandma's mind what must be done and there was no time to waste!
"It's either Gabby or my little Tomasita!" Grandma thought as she ran to the house. Without any hesitation she went straight o the pen where Gabby was placed earlier. "Oh," realized Grandma, "now I see why Gabby was behaving so strangely. She was trying to warn Tomasa about the snake!"
Grandma held Gabby with both hands as she dashed back to the doctor's office. By this time, Tomasa's body was drenched with sweat from the high fever and she was lying there unconscious.
The doctor had already made a cut directly on the bite and drained what little bit of poison that he could. He knew he needed to do more. Relief came when he saw Grandma coming with Gabby in her hands!
As soon as Grandma entered the office she handed gabby to the doctor. He began to do the only thing that would save Tomasa's life. With a sharp knife he made a small cut into the neck of the hen and held it against the open wound on Tomasa's knee.
Were they too late? Could this little chicken draw enough of the poison out of Tomasa's body to keep her from dying? Yes, Doctor Salvador's plan was working, but with a great price! The fever and swelling that Tomasa had were going down. It wasn't long, however, before the precious pet died from the poison that was absorbed into her little body.
How could Grandma tell Tomasa? She loved her pet so much! Grandma prayed and asked The Lord to give her the right words when the time came to talk to Tomasa.
Within a few hours Tomasa was wide awake. Still in great pain, she noticed the cut on her knee. "Abuela, how did I get this cut on my knee?" she asked.
Grandma slowly began explaining all that the doctor did to safe Tomasa's life. Tears came running down her face when she heard that Gabby died from the very poison that would have killed her!
"Grandma, Gabby saved my life, didn't she?" Tomasa quietly asked.
"Yes, Querida, she saved your life." Grandma responded. During the next few moments of silence, Grandma thought of something wonderful!
"This reminds me of another Person who died so that you could live. Do you know who He is?" As Grandma asked this question she could see that Tomasa was beginning to understand just how much God loves her.
The reply was quiet but correct. "Oh, Abuela, you mean Jesus, don't you?"
With a nod, Grandma, once again, began explaining God's great love, using John 3:16. God loved His only Begotten Son and yet He saw our great need of a Savior. Without Christ we are filled with a poison called sin and we are sure to die." Grandma continued on by saying, "The Bible says, For all have sinned..." (Romans 3:23) As Tomasa remembered some sins that she committed, Grandma turned and asked if she remembered what Romans 6:23 says. It's a verse that Tomasa heard many times. She quoted the verse. It was then she realized the great cost of salvation and how precious it is. With tears in her eyes she told Grandma that she wanted to ask Jesus to forgive her sins and live in her heart. Grandma bowed her head and listened as Tomasa prayed a short but sincere prayer. How wonderful it was for Tomasa to be all clean inside! (Psalm 51:7)
As Grandma reached for a hug, Tomasa realized something else. "I'm so sorry that God had to do that so we could have eternal life. He must have been so sad when He saw His Son dying on the cross. Just like I'm sad because Gabby is dead.
"But, Tomasa, the good news is that Jesus is alive again! This was The father's plan from the beginning." Grandma spoke with rejoicing in her heart. Tomasa sat listening as Grandma continued, "Today, not only did you get rescued from physical death, you called on The Only One who could take the poison out of your heart and save you from an eternal death. "Today you got a double cure!"
"That's right, Grandma. I've been cured inside and outside!" Tomasa exclaimed as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
As they walked home from the doctor's office, Grandma commented on how much they had to tell Mami and Papi that evening. It was then that Tomasa looked up from Grandma's arms and said..."Grandma, you're the best abuela ever!" That was medicine to a loving grandma's heart!
Spanish words used in this story are...
Abuela................................................grandmother or Grandma
Abuelita..............................................more affectionate term of grandma
Tomasita............................................affectionate name for Tomasa
Scriptures used in this story are...
John 3:16..."For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Romans 3:23..."For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Romans 6:23..."For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Psalm 51:7b..."...Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."
I John 4:14 may also be used..."The Father sent The Son to be the Savior of the world."