This man, Garrett, brought his son and a friend along for a few days at the beach.
We noticed him because he was the only one on the beach with a surfboard. Actually, he rented two: a large one for himself and a smaller one for his son. A novice, Garrett told us he has only been out surfboarding four times.
He was taking a break on the beach, chatting with his friend.
Meanwhile, my brother, sister-in-law, my husband, and I would count heads periodically to check that our kids were all accounted for. Most were playing in the sand, but three were bobbing in the water along the sandbar.
At some point, one of ours drifted just past the sandbar on a boogie board and was struggling to get back on account of this:
All of us had studied the sign on the way to the bath house.
- Go with the flow; don’t panic.
- Wave for help on shore.
- Float parallel to shore.
- Swim diagonally back.
She was trying her best to follow all of those recommendations. She knew it wouldn’t help to panic. Floating along, she tried to break through and swim diagonally, but it didn’t work.
Well, Garrett saw that she was struggling, grabbed his surfboard and sprang into action. He paddled directly to her and extended the surfboard.
“Grab onto my board!” he told her. “Whatever you do, don’t let go!”
She gripped tightly and he started to paddle back. Then he realized the current was too strong; he couldn’t break through it, either. They both tried kicking as hard as they could without moving an inch.
Garrett started waving for help and signaling for someone to call 911. A woman leaped up and grabbed the son’s surfboard, but Garrett waved her back. “Don’t come out!”
In the commotion, we were gathering our kids, counting, realizing we were missing one.
He said at a key moment, a big wave crashed through and broke up the current. He was able to get a toe-hold and push them into safer waters and on toward shore.
Our daughter walked calmly back to us on the sand, wide-eyed, shaky.
Garrett walked back with his surfboard, wide-eyed, shaky.
We realized what just happened and met her, wide-eyed, shaky.
We sat with our daughter for a long time, rubbing her back, hugging her, hearing about it from her own perspective.
Then we talked with Garrett and his friend, piecing it all together.
How do you thank someone for that?
How do you honor his fast-action and the risks he took?
What do you say? What do you do?
After everyone went back to their beach umbrellas, soft drinks, and sand castles, Garrett went back out to try some more surfing. I went over to talk with his friend. I said, rhetorically, “How do you thank someone for something so huge? How do you thank someone for rescuing your daughter?”
You know what his friend said? He said, “You can’t, not really. You just thank Jesus and pray that He’ll give you a chance to help someone else in some other way in the future.”
Garrett won’t be written up in the newspaper for his heroic action nor featured on Good Morning America.
But I want to thank Garrett publically on my little blog here, honoring a real-life hero.
Thank you, Garrett.
And, like his friend advised, Thank You, Jesus.