Courage could be defined as the willingness to act when no-one else will.

My only near death experience took place at a hot pools complex north of Auckland. I was three years old. My mother was watching a child that she thought was me but on realising that he wasn’t, went on a frantic search. She found me at the bottom of large pool and dragged me out. Apparently I was almost black in appearance and those that were witnessing this drama thought that I was too far gone to be revived.

However one woman was prepared to try to resuscitate me against the advice of many who were gathered around. Eventually she was successful. Kathleen very nearly wasn’t there that day because on the way to the pools she and her family narrowly avoided a road accident that left them shaken and considering returning home. But she said to her husband that they should continue as their children would be disappointed.

As a surprise for my thirtieth birthday my wife tracked Kathleen down and arranged for her to meet me for afternoon tea. As I saw this ‘stranger’ coming up our driveway I instinctively knew who she was. It seemed like the world stood still as we relived the experience that first brought us together 27 years earlier. It was wonderful to spend some time with her and to thank her for saving my life.

I often reflect on this experience and the courage of Kathleen to step forward that day. She had only learnt CPR the previous week and was immediately confronted with a situation where this was needed. She would have had to bury any uncertainty she felt that might have stopped her taking action. Certainly the trauma of almost having a car accident on her way to the pools wouldn’t have helped her confidence in such a pressured moment. But the fact that she was prepared to act when no-one else would, reveals the courage that Kathleen displayed on that day. All fears were put aside in order to save the life of the three year old at her feet.

Significant things can happen when we have the courage to go against the crowd for a worthy cause. I owe my life to someone who did.

Photo: jannoon028/