18, No Time to Waste
THE SPRING OF KATHI'S JUNIOR year we learned that my dad had leukemia and would probably live for six months, at the most. We were saddened as we sat at my parents' table on Mother's Day, for we all knew these were his last days with us. Dad sat at the head of the table, as always, full of conversation about his wonderful Lord. Dad was the head of the house in every sense, the glory in the home. It would be so empty without him.
All of the family sat about him, my brother and his children and all our children except Kathi. When we had finished eating and were relaxing over dessert and coffee, in breezed Kathi and John behind her.
"What's to eat, grandma?" she exclaimed, greeting her grandpa with a kiss. And John and Kathi sat down with "oh's" and "ah's" as grandma, always quick to serve her grandchildren, brought them delicious food.
"I like that girl," dad said quietly to me. "She's not afraid of anything. She's my girl." His eyes were shining.
And the feeling was mutual; Kathi loved her grandpa. A few weeks later as he lay dying in the hospital, she stood at the foot of his bed.
"Grandpa," she said, with tears in her eyes, "I just led my two best friends to Christ."
"That's wonderful, honey," he smiled weakly. "Keep up the good work."
I stood there looking at them, thinking how alike they were both so dynamic in their witness for Christ.
We buried dad in early June, and after the service I overheard Kathi talking to a weeping friend of the family.
"Don't grieve for my grandpa; he's with the Lord." And then she proceeded to tell her how she could know for sure that she would go to heaven.
Sometime later I read in Kathi's diary: "I want to be just like grandpa. I want to tell everyone, everywhere about Jesus."
I have often heard that fathers have a special way with daughters, and this was certainly true in our case. Vern understood Kathi and always told her how proud he was of her, and she justified all of his pride.
She was like "the first star you see at night," twinkling in an otherwise starless sky, making everyone aware of its brightness. She made you feel that she could scale any mountain, dare anything, do anything. She was voted by her high school friends as "the girl you'd most like to be on a desert island with."
Kathi loved everyone old people, handicapped children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas they were all quick to warm to her affection. The only people she couldn't tolerate were those she labeled "phonies, not real," and she bristled at the slightest hint of it.
"I will do my own thing. I won't be a phony," she'd say. "Accept me for me. I'm not Cindy. I'm me!"
When she helped teach the children in summer Bible school, the little tots, even the shyest ones, would clamor for Kathi. She had a way with children, as evidenced by the little ones knocking at the door calling for her. Out she'd go to take Dede or Kevin for a walk, or she'd run across the street to play with the new baby. I might as well have tried to hold a wisp of smoke in my hands as to hold Kathi back.
But I was trying to shift gears and accept the whirlwind of activity, the flying feet, and the independent ways which surrounded her.
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