New Jersey, USA
It was a beautiful, sunny day, not a cloud in the sky and a gentle breeze blowing. The sea was calm, flat and mirror-like. The small bay was like a crescent moon, curving around with white sand sloping gently into the water. We were on our first vacation in years, in a southern Turkish fishing village on the Turquoise coast. The four of us, my wife and I and our two daughters, aged five and three, were spending the day at the beach.
While my oldest daughter played in the sand with friends, my wife and I took our 3-year-old, Melinda, into the water. We walked on a sand bar which started at one of the tips of the bay and ran straight up the middle of the bay. Water on the sand bar was barely knee deep for my daughter.
My wife asked me to swim out to deeper water. I agreed, and asked Melinda to head back to shore, thinking she would follow the sand bar back. Instead, she decided to head straight back to the beach where her sister was playing. No longer on the sand bar, the water up to her shoulders, Melinda doggedly kept trying to reach the shore where her sister played.
My wife and I had our backs to all of this, swimming away from the beach and laughing. But, as much fun as I was having, something called me back to shore. My wife was angry about my deserting her, and continued out toward deeper water.
I was now walking in water waist deep on myself, when I saw my 3-year-old Melinda, off the sand bar, head thrown back, chin up as high as she could get it, struggling to walk back to the shore. I found myself running as best I could through waist deep water toward my daughter.
When I got to Melinda, I found her in the arms of a little Turkish girl, aged eight or ten, held up out of the grasp of the sea. I grabbed them both and carried them toward the shore, thanking God and the little girl in my broken Turkish. I told her how good she was to have saved my daughter’s life. Melinda said, “Daddy, I called for you and you didn’t come!” It broke my heart.
Melinda is now seventeen, and gets wonderful grades in High School. She has great SAT marks and plans on attending a great college. She has it all because of a little Turkish girl. I never learned the name of the girl who saved my daughter’s life, but I’ll never forget what she did.