Tomás, his abuelo and his mami were migrant workers from El Salvador. His abuelo made his way to the United States in the 1980's, when life in El Salvador was mostly death. He came with his daughter, Tomás' mami, who was pregnant with him, to the border.
A kind priest heard their story and led them to an Underground Railroad that took them to a church in Arizona and gave them sanctuary. They were never able to get their papers and become naturalized American citizens, but they began a migration across the country and dropped their blood, sweat and tears onto the ground across the West, Midwest and South until they found themselves in South Carolina.
They were many thousands of miles from where they began, from home.
They began picking tomatoes and peaches near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Tomás didn't know where they would go next, only that they would go. He used to despair about the going until he learned that blue whales are migrants, too. They went many thousands of miles, season after season, year after year, like him. That made his heart feel hopeful.
Tomás knew that if a blue whale's brain were a motor, it would be 2.5 Formula 1 race car engines. He also knew if a human being's brain were a motor, it would be a 1960 VW Beetle's engine. His brain was like the blue whale's brain.
He could solve complex problems simply. He was a living Occam's Razor. It was the little Franciscan monk William of Occam in the Middle Ages who said, "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one," and Tomás' mind always tended toward those simple, best solutions.
As a matter of fact, when he looked at a problem, any problem, it was as if the problem began to glow with the light of a halo and the answer began to show itself to him in that light.
He understood people in this way, too. When he looked at a person, any person, it was as if the person began to glow with the light of a halo and the essence of that person began to show itself to him in that light.
He always found beauty in the plain, genius in the simple and wonder in the ordinary.
"Whales are the most intelligent creatures in the world," thought Tomás. "And I am like them.
That made him hopeful, too.