On an early July evening this past week as another scorcher of a day surrendered to the evening, little Mason Brown held onto her parent's hands as they rang the doorbell on the porch of a stucco house overlooking the Jeremy Ranch golf course.
Once inside the door, the little girl shyly approached Jordan Weed, an almost-eighth-grader, reached up and handed her a stuffed bear she'd picked out herself.
It's how a 2-year-old thanks the 12-year-old who saved her life.
The moment that changed everything and didn't change everything happened a couple of weeks ago at a condominium swimming pool in Park City. Jordan and her friends Jill Stevens and Adair Hensley, on leave from Ecker Hill Middle School for the summer, were in the water when Jill motioned toward an object near the bottom of the pool, saying, "I hope somebody knows that's there."
Jordan was closer to the object and at first she thought it might be Adair's little sister Cheyenne. Instinctively she reached out and instead touched the motionless body of Mason Brown. A minute earlier Mason had been in her floater, idly cruising in the pool's shallow end, but she slipped out and now she was under three feet of water that might as well have been three thousand.
The body Jordan scooped up was covered in mucus and throw-up. There was maybe 45 seconds of life left in it.
Jordan let go with a 12-year-old scream and the entire pool came to attention.
Within seconds a cell phone punched out 9-1-1, and within minutes paramedics who were fortuitously practically right outside the condo when they got the call, were poolside, pumping Mason's lungs, bringing her breathing back and rushing her to the hospital, where she was kept in intensive care overnight.
The doctor shook his head in amazement the next morning when he released her. Mason's right lung had been 80 percent filled with water, her left lung 25 percent, she had lost consciousness, and yet the actions of first Jill and Jordan, then the paramedics, were so quick and efficient that there were no signs of neurological damage.
That day at the condo pool, Jordan and Jill were summarily pushed out of the way when the paramedics arrived. They watched with the rest of the crowd as the baby coughed up water and then started to scream at the paramedics — a sure sign of life. The girls' knees were shaking so they left with Jordan's mom. Back at Jordan's house, Jordan and Jill got in the hot tub, then went inside and turned on a video. Their knees were still shaking.
It wasn't until the next day that Tag and Erika Brown, Mason's parents, realized they had no idea whose initial actions had saved their daughter. They called the Park City newspaper for help and called a newspaper in Idaho because someone had noticed a car in the condo parking lot with Idaho tags. All to no avail.
Then a mutual acquaintance who knows both the Browns and the Weeds brought the story full circle. The hero who scooped up Mason wasn't from Idaho, the Browns were told, she was 12 years old and lived on the other side of the freeway at Jeremy Ranch.
Tag and Erika called the Weeds and a meeting time was set for this past Thursday night.
So it was that four days before Mason's 3rd birthday the Browns made the short drive from their Park City condo to meet and thank the girl who pulled their baby girl out of that pool.
Mason's gift exchange to Jordan was quick, and then as the grown-ups talked, she was racing around the house like wildfire, full of life and acting like a perfectly normal 2-year-old. And that was the best thank you of all.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and faxes to 801-237-2527.