It was the hot, dry season. With no rain in almost a month, crops were dying, cows had stopped giving milk, streams had long dried up, and we, like other farmers in the area, faced bankcruptcy if we didn’t see some rain soon.
I was in the kitchen making lunch when I saw my six-year-old son, Billy, walking purposefully and carefully toward the woods. I could only see his back. Minutes after he disappeared, he came running back.
I continued making sandwiches, but noticed later that he was once again walking toward the woods with that slow purposeful stride. This activity—walk carefully to the woods, run back to the house—was repeated a few more times. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer, so I crept out of the house and followed him on his journey, being careful to remain out of sight.
I sneaked along as he went into the woods. Branches and thorns slapped his face, but he didn’t try to avoid them. Then I saw the most amazing sight. Several large deer loomed in front of him, but Billy walked right up to them. I almost screamed for him to get away—a huge buck with elaborate antlers was dangerously close. But the buck did not threaten him. He didn’t even move as Billy knelt down. Then I saw a tiny fawn that was lying on the ground, obviously suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion, lift its head with great effort to lap up the water my beautiful boy had brought, cupped in his hands.
When the water was gone, Billy jumped up to run back to the house and I hid behind a tree. I followed him back to a spigot that we had shut off the water to. Billy turned it all the way and knelt to catch the few drops that trickled out. I remembered the trouble he had gotten into for playing with the hose the week before and the lecture he had received about the importance of not wasting water, and I understood why he hadn’t asked for help.
The leftover water in the pipes was all but gone, and it took a long time for the drops to fill his makeshift “cup.” When he finally stood up and turned around, I was in front of him.
His eyes filled with tears. “I’m not wasting,” was all he said.
With a lump in my throat, I handed Billy a cup filled to the brim with water from the kitchen, and together we walked back into the treeline. I let him tend to the fawn, watching proudly as my son worked to save a life.
Tears rolled down my face and hit the ground, where they were joined by other drops … and more drops … and more. I looked up and saw the sky was dark and rumbly. Billy and I barely made it back to the house before the clouds burst and a heavy rain shower hit.
Some will probably say that this was just a huge coincidence, that it was bound to rain sometime. And I can’t argue with that. All I can say is that the rain that came that day saved our farm, just like the actions of a little boy saved a life.