18, No Time to Waste

Chapter Thirteen

   THE MORNING SUN WAS ALREADY hot when I awoke that following Saturday with a headache. We would be packing and making last-minute preparations for our early Sunday morning start to Shasta. Cindy was in town for the weekend, and I had promised her we would shop later in the day. I had to run to my office to finish a few things before my vacation, planning to be home by noon.

   The quiet of a Saturday morning office gave me time to reflect on all that had happened in the past months. The change in Kathi had been so lightning quick. I could scarcely believe that all the years of misunderstanding were over. In letting go of her, I had found her; in letting her grow up to make her own decisions, I had gained a daughter worthy of my trust. Though I had so dreaded her moving away from home and in with Felicia, this had actually drawn her closer to her family.

   My heart was light and grateful as I put away my typewriter and cleaned off my desk. It would seem so good to be away for a full week — to fully relax. I locked the door and drove home.

   When I got there, Cindy was waiting.

   "Kathi stopped by earlier and wanted to take me to breakfast, but I told her we'd wait for you. She is coming back, and we'll go to lunch together."

   Cindy paused a moment, "Mother, have you noticed the change in Kathi?"

   I smiled, "Yes, Cindy, I've noticed."

   Cindy seemed puzzled. "She's been so sweet to me, and seems to be —" she groped for the right word, "at such peace."

   I smiled, happy that Cindy had noticed too. Now, finally, finally, the three of us could have a good relationship.

   "Thank You, Lord," my heart whispered.

   Kathi walked in a few minutes later, sunburned from her days at the beach.

   "You bad girl, we get you a car and don't see you for two days," I teased her.

   She smiled. "I've been busy getting ready for camp. I have to be at work at four o'clock. Maybe we should take two cars."

   I assured her we'd have her back in plenty of time.

   For lunch, we found a small chicken place. Kathi, who usually was so bouncy and talkative, was quiet and thoughtful.

   We chatted about Camp Hammer. "Do you have a warm coat for cool evenings?" I asked. "Now don't you drive, Kathi. Let the boys drive."

   She promised she would take along warm clothes and that she would let the boys drive, but her thoughts still seemed far away.

   We finished eating and drove on to the department store where the girls would shop while I bought groceries for our trip.

   "Good, I'll get to say good-by to Sharon." Kathi clapped her hands. Sharon had been her friend since junior high school days; they were such look-alikes that I always had to look twice when Sharon walked in the door.

   When I had finished my shopping I walked next door to meet the girls. I couldn't find them, so I asked the doorman to page Kathi Johnson.

   Finally I found her talking to Sharon, who worked at the soda fountain, and when the doorman called her name, she grimaced.

   "Oh, mother," she groaned in embarrassment.

   I hugged her. "Just think, now everyone in the store knows that Kathi Johnson is here."

   "You'll stop by after work tonight, Kathi?" I asked when we got back to the house. "About midnight?"

   "Yes, mom, I want to drop off my tip money so you can put it in the bank for me. I'll say good-by then."

   "Now take care of yourself, honey," I called as she got into her car.

   "Have fun," Cindy waved.

   We stood there, waving and smiling, watching her drive off; we stood on the driveway until the red car turned the corner and was out of sight.

   My head still ached. It was so hot, and there was still some packing to do. Suddenly I was depressed and very tired.

   When Vern came home, we decided that we would leave earlier than previously planned, so Vern called Kathi at work.

   "Yeah, dad?" her voice was bright.

   "Kathi, when you come tonight, just leave the money on the table. We've decided to leave at four in the morning and are going to bed early."

   He told her to drive carefully and gave her the number where we could be reached at Shasta — "just in case." I was standing beside him, but I didn't reach for the telephone to say good-by. After all, in only a week we would all be home — together again.

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