185. Wonder Girl

Each of us has those defining moments that either shape or reveal our character.

This is a photo of my great niece Kaitlyn Delancey Gorman when she was about 11 years old. She lived in Goodyear, Arizona at the time something unforgettable happened to her. And without her, the outcome of the event would have changed her family’s life forever.

Katie was born in Seattle but the family moved to Arizona when she was about 10 years old.  I think she and my great niece, Hannah Rose Fitzpatrick, are the only cousins in the family that qualify for status as an “only child”.

Today is Kaitlyn’s 15th birthday.  She’s in ninth grade at Xavier College Preparatory School in Phoenix, Arizona, and has been making the honor roll.

She suffered through one year of orthodontic braces so far with a year to go, and she’s got a dog named Jake the Lake (he’s a swimmer, natch).

Kaitlyn is heavily invested in crew, and she and her team are competing in a regatta in San Francisco soon.  (In the photo below, she’s the 6th rower from the left.)


Kaitlyn’s relationship with her parents always seemed to me to be unique, and becoming a teenager hasn’t seemed to change that.  She treats them as though they’re her best friends, a quality that certainly qualifies her as a “dream child”.  One reason for it may be that defining moment that happened when she was 11 years old.

It was an early morning in January, 2007.  An otherwise normal day that turned into a nightmare.  Niki had taken their dog Jake out in the back yard to do his business, and Michael was in the shower.  Eventually, Kaitlyn came downstairs and wondered where Jake was.

Then she saw Jake standing outside the back door. She went out to get him. Suddenly, she saw her mother, unconscious, in the swimming pool.  Niki had had a seizure, and fallen into the pool.  The terrified eleven-year-old had no way to know whether her mother was dead or alive or how  long she had been in the water.  Frantically, Kaitlyn rushed into the house and yelled for her dad.  Michael burst out of the shower and – probably naked as a jaybird – tore out of the house, plunged into the pool, and got Niki out of the water and onto the ground.

While Michael tried to revive Niki, Kaitlyn urgently called 911 and reported the emergency. The firemen arrived soon after and administered to Niki and then transported her to the hospital in critical condition.

After two or three agonizing days, Niki began recovering from her near-death experience.  My sister-in-law, Peggy Gorman told me that a bouquet of flowers was brought to the hospital by the fireman.  They were amazed that Niki had survived, and they were impressed by the actions of Katie and Michael. They weren’t expecting such a happy ending.

Later, the firemen came to Kaitlyn’s school and presented her with an award for her conduct. (And a brand new bike!) The terror, shock, and pressure she faced might cause most of us to freeze in panic, but this level-headed child managed to help her dad save her mother’s life.  It’s no wonder they’re best friends!

Have a happy birthday, Kaitlyn.  And a happy regatta!  Row, row, row your boat!

You can see more photos of the Wonder Girl below.

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6 Responses to 185. Wonder Girl

  1. Elizabeth says:

    What an amazing story!

  2. Joan Fitzpatrick says:

    I cry every time I think about the incident.

  3. Linda Lewis says:

    Thank God for level headed kids like Kaitlyn! And what a precious tribute the firemen gave her.
    BTW Pat, the Open House for the new fire station by Metropolitan Market on 35th is this Saturday from 11-1. Are you and Matt going? We (6 of us) will miss it because we are going to visit my Dad in Portland – ‘just because’. (My two daughters, three gkids and I.)

  4. Gretchen Covey says:

    Happy Birthday Kaitlyn!

    Your gentle, unflappable spirit has brought great joy to the world.

    So happy to know you.

  5. pattybryant says:

    Congratulaions Kaitlyn. Happy 15th.

    Patty and Charlie Bryant

  6. Pingback: 316. Superheroes | Going on 80

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