18, No Time to Waste

Chapter Five

   "BUT I DON'T WANT TO GO," Kathi was protesting loudly. "I can stay here with Cindy. It won't be any fun for me."

   We were planning our vacation at Yosemite that year and had decided to rough it. Vern bought a tent and sleeping bags and all the equipment we would need. I couldn't say it was exactly my idea of a relaxing vacation, but I knew the boys would love it. The hot summer days that always invaded the valley from June through October were upon us. It would be a relief to get out of the heat and smog and into clean mountain air.

   Now Kathi was pouting, but I was insistent that she go along with us. She was fifteen, and she didn't want to leave her friends for the summer.

   "You'll have fun once we get there," we encouraged her, and reluctantly she began packing.

   The long trip up into Yosemite mountains and the boys at their noisy, boisterous ages sent Kathi sinking further and further into the seat of the car.

   By the time we finally found a camping spot and had pitched the tent, it was dark.

   "Be careful of bears!" our camping neighbors called out.

   "Oh?" I said, glancing at Kathi who was afraid of a moth.

   We were up early, and Vern had the coffee on the cookstove while we were dressing. Oh — it was cold. The boys hopping around in their sweatshirts thought this was the biggest adventure of all — eating breakfast outdoors. Kathi was silent.

   I thought the week was going to be a complete wash-out for her. But late that afternoon a lovely big trailer pulled up beside us and two teen-age girls jumped out. We felt like veteran campers by now, and so we introduced ourselves and invited them to join us for a barbecue that night.

   Kathi started to bubble, effervescent as always. She was back on her own ground with friends her own age. The three of them took off for a hike the next day, and when Kathi came back to camp, she had a boy with her. They were barefoot and holding hands. Her two new girl friends each had a boy in tow also.

   "This is Mike, mom and dad," Kathi said casually, as though she had known him all her life.

   Kathi was her usual vivacious self. Swimming under the bridge, walking with Mike through wooded lanes, sipping Cokes on the benches, she was all smiles.

   "Can this be the same girl we brought up here?" Vern said in astonishment.

   We hardly saw her that week. After a hearty outdoor breakfast, off she would go with Mike, and the whole day would pass without a sight of her.

   "And I thought it would be different up here," I complained, but not too unhappily. I was glad she was having fun.

   Mike was puppy love. Kathi was fifteen, and she had found a boy who like the same things she did.

   "Can't we stay one more day, just one more day?" she begged, with her two girl friends hopping up and down and Mike standing shyly to the side.

   "Afraid not, honey," we told her. "We have to get back."

   The ride home was a repeat performance; Kathi was silent.

   Already she was sure she would never see Mike again.

   "He's going to write to me," she said. "And maybe come to see me sometime."

   It didn't take Kathi long after we were home before she was back into the swing of things with her old friends. She and Mike did write faithfully at first, but when he finally came to see her, she had almost forgotten who he was.

   Anyway, there were so many other things to think about. Kathi was getting ready for the biggest moment of her life — she was getting ready for high school. All our thoughts and plans now were on that big day when she would start Cleveland High. Most of her junior high friends would be going there, too.

   So far I had approved and welcomed Kathi's friends, but soon I was to reverse that decision.

   I was about to meet Felicia!

   "Mom, this is Felicia," she said that November, and it was as though she were saying, "This is someone special."

   "She doesn't go to Cleveland," Kathi continued. "I met her at the Y-Club; she goes to St. Genevieve High School."

   It was sometime later that I found what Kathi had written about the beginning of her friendship with Felicia. It was a composition for her English class entitled "Some Important Thing That Happened to Me This Year."

   September, 1966, I entered high school with high goals and meaningful aims. By October, 1966, I hated school and by November I couldn't wait to graduate. During November I met a friend who asked me to join a Y-Club, and thinking this meant instant popularity, I joined. It turned out that at that time, it was the right thing to do.

   Well to make a long story short, I met another friend who today is my best friend, and this story is about her. As I tell how we became friends, and what we've accomplished, I don't expect anyone to understand. I am writing this mainly because I think we are great.

   As I walked into that first club meeting, the first person I saw was Felicia, her big ears hanging out. You might wonder why I mention that fact, but that is actually how we became friends. I ran up to her and yelled, "You have big ears, too!" Well, when she saw mine, we both started laughing and haven't stopped since.

   It was instant friendship, and we began plotting and planning immediately. We were out to conquer the world and in our way of thinking we have. The first thing we did proved that we were going to get away with murder. Felicia spent the night with me and we decided to sneak out about midnight. (It was difficult as we have a two-story house, and my room is on the second floor.) We got out and went over to some new houses that were being built and looked around the rooms. This started our expeditions.

   We messed around all that semester until it was time for summer vacation. Summer '67 was the greatest time of my life. I learned a lot about people and life in general, and it didn't matter if I was popular. We both quit the club, which we felt wasn't for us, and started doing what we wanted to do. We went to the beach a lot and met new people.

   As the summer passed and school began, we had to think of ways to cut classes; we use many methods, and they all worked. One day when we were at my house, Felicia's mother called and caught us, and that was the end of cutting classes for awhile.

   This is only a few things we've done, but after high school we plan to take a trip. And after that, who knows what?

   I don't know what grade Kathi got on her short essay, but I would give her an "A" for accuracy. She and Felicia were constantly thinking up new ways to be together, whether by car or by telephone.

   "I don't like Felicia," I told Vern one day. "I wish Kathi would find some friends from church."

   Felicia was a tall, rather sedate girl, lovely, really, with long, dark hair. She was an introvert who complemented Kathi's outgoing personality. I knew I was being hasty and unreasonable in my judgment of Felicia, but I had taken my stand and wouldn't back down.

   "I just don't like her, Kathi," I said over and over. "She seems — well — unhappy."

   "Felicia is my best friend, mom," Kathi countered.

   "I still don't like her," and I felt a tightening in my chest as Kathi walked away. The gap between us widened.

   "I don't understand Kathi," I complained to Vern that night. "She loves her friends more than she does us. She always has something going with them."

   "The storm will pass, honey," Vern assured me. "She'll grow out of it." But the clashes between us became more frequent . . . .

   "Kathi, you should have Christian friends from church."

   "You're wrong, mom," she contradicted in her direct manner. "If all my friends were believers in Christ, how could I win them to the Lord?"

   I couldn't argue with her logic, but I was afraid, thinking of all the possibilities of temptations that could confront her. I saw Kathi as impulsive and willing to try anything once. I didn't know that my strong-willed daughter was actually standing her ground for Christ, never backing down from her convictions.

   Kathi was dating Tom, a boy of another faith. Everyone in the family liked Tom, he was artistic, pleasant, and had a contagious sense of humor. But Tom was as adamant in his faith as Kathi was in hers, and often their dates would end in argument or debates about each other's faith, until Kathi brought a halt to their dating.

   "I could never marry a boy of another faith," she told me.

   Of all the friends, and especially boyfriends, who were drawn to Kathi, I believe it was John who really adored her. John had graduated from Kathi's high school and was attending U.C. Riverside on a football scholarship. He seemed to fit right in with our family, and we all admired him.

   There wasn't anything that Kathi would ask for that John didn't try his hardest to get for her. Once she mentioned that she would love to have a birthstone ring. Before the words were hardly out of her mouth, John presented her with a tiny blue birthstone ring. Kathi wore it constantly, even after she had broken off with John and was dating others.

   But Kathi couldn't date a boy for long without telling him her love for the Lord Jesus Christ and what her faith meant to her. Soon John was accompanying Kathi to our church services, wanting to find out for himself what she was talking about.

   I was at the piano on that special Sunday morning when John slipped past Kathi and walked down the aisle in response to Pastor Smith's invitation to receive Christ as Savior. Jim Wallis, a missionary home on furlough from Brazil, took John into the church study to talk with him. That day Kathi had led her first friend to Jesus Christ.

   Even Felicia, brought up strictly in another faith, listened to Kathi tell about Christ. And on a Sunday not too long after John's conversion, Felicia, too, walked down that aisle. She was the second of Kathi's friends who had a personal encounter with Christ because of her witness. 

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