Elderly woman sells tamales from wheelchair to get by
SAN ANTONIO —
Margarita Davila fought the cold Monday afternoon while selling tamales at the corner of Eisenhower Road and Midcrown Drive on the Northeast Side. The near freezing temperatures caused her ailing back to throb with pain as the 74-year-old tried to scrape together money to survive.
“I have to because there's not enough money to live on," she said.
Davila sells homemade tamales, pork and chicken for $7.50 a dozen, from her wheelchair. It’s a family recipe that’s been passed down from her mother.
"It has garlic, cumino, chili powder and salt on the meat," she explained.
Davila spends hours each day preparing the food.
“People like 'em!" she said.
Especially as people celebrate with loved ones over the holidays. Tamales are associated with comfort food for many. But Davila, who has no teeth left to enjoy her own food, has quite a different take on celebrations.
“I never celebrate any holidays or my birthday or anything like that," she said with tears in her eyes. “Because, I mean, what's there to celebrate. I have just enough money to survive, nothing for celebration."
She and her son Xavier, who often helps her out by holding a tamales-for-sale sign outside a Shell gas station, have been in and out of a homeless shelter—even on Christmas.
"Some people get happy for the holidays and others don't,” Davila said while wiping the tears from her face. “That's the way life is for me."
But her life took a more positive turn on CASH FOR KINDNESS. Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf surprised her with news that she was nominated by our viewers for the award.
“It's so nice to see you,” he said. “I'm Ryan Wolf from Fox San Antonio.
“Pleased to meet you," the elderly woman responded.
Wolf shared how a photo of her posted on his Facebook page went viral. It was sent to him by her son a few days prior his visit. He turned to Wolf’s page for some uplifting words from the community. The photo showed his mother selling tamales in the cold, and he wanted to give her a reason to smile. The post, which was viewed nearly 250,000 times since Tuesday, garnered more than 6,000 likes and more than 1,000 comments.
Davila had inspired people from all over the community with her work ethic.
“In my pocket is a surprise from Fox San Antonio," Wolf told her.
He handed over $1,000 in cash.
“$1000?” she said with a puzzled look on her face. “Why?”
Davila immediately started to sob uncontrollably. “I don't deserve this,” she said.
She talked about how her life has often been without meaning. “I've never had anybody do anything for me before."
The money will allow her to catch up on some rest so she can try to heal an untreated pinched nerve and painful blot clot.
“I won't have to go out in the cold selling tamales for a while," she said while crying.
Davila admitted how her CASH FOR KINDNESS surprise helped her feel a sense of purpose.
“I want to thank everybody for doing this for me," she said.
It’s a renewed sense of spirit, just in time for the holidays.
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody," she added while holding the $1,000 in the air.
Click here to nominate someone for the CASH FOR KINDNESS prize.