18, No Time to Waste

Chapter Eight

   THE FALL OF 1968 was an important time for our family. Cindy and her fiancé Don were planning their November wedding, and Kathi was a senior — the whirlwind of activities grew to mountainous proportions.

   Cindy and I had started planning the wedding in the summer. Every weekend was occupied with a search for just the right bridal gown and an appropriate maid-of-honor dress for Kathi. Finally Cindy settled on an old-fashioned lace dress with high Victorian collar and bell sleeves. And Kathi found hers — a sapphire blue velvet with white lace cuffs.

   There was only one objection to the date of Cindy's wedding, and that came from Kathi. It was on the same night as the big football game at Cleveland High!

   "But, Kathi," I remonstrated, "this is Cindy's wedding — it's her day."

   "Maybe I can leave right after the wedding," she thought aloud.

   "Oh, no! Cleveland will do just fine without you for one night."

   Two weeks before the wedding we faced another minor crisis with Kathi. She had been selected as one of the candidates for Homecoming Queen, and she begged to wear her maid-of-honor dress for the final selection night. Cindy and I objected violently; we could imagine Kathi coming home with it all wrinkled and bedraggled with mud. However, she won and wore the lovely blue gown.

   "Can you imagine our Kathi as queen?" Vern, our boys, and I sat in the bleachers watching the smiling candidates ride around the football field in open convertibles. Felicia was in front of us holding Kathi's photograph on a placard, which read, "Vote for Kathi Johnson. Kathi for Queen." The photo was one of Kathi standing under a tree, the sunlight catching her shining hair, her head tilted with a half-smile on her lips.

   "I wish Kathi had worn white like the other girls," I fretted.

   "She looks beautiful," Vern said with pride and conviction.

   Kathi was elected a princess, quite a change for our tomboy daughter. There was a lump in my throat as I watched her ascend gracefully to the rostrum. Her friend Sharon stood beside her they had been in school together since junior high and remained close, warm friends.

   After the game, Kathi was off to a party with her friends. As they were leaving, I heard a group of excited girls talking. One said, "Wasn't Kathi Johnson beautiful?" I knew she was popular, but I was beginning to find out how much Kathi was really loved by all her friends.

   Cindy's wedding day arrived — a cool November day — and the house was in turmoil. Cindy and Kathi hurried to the beauty parlor early in the morning, only to arrive home in tears at what the experts had "done" to their hair. They both brushed the curls out furiously until they had just the style they wanted.

   Cindy was radiantly beautiful as she walked down the aisle with her father, and my eyes filled with tears as I saw the look of love on Don's face.

   Kathi stood erect and ladylike beside Cindy, stunning in her blue velvet dress. At that moment it was hard for me to envision her enthusiastically leading a cheer at a football game. My girls were beautiful, shining, and happy.

   Cindy told me later that tears streamed down Kathi's cheeks throughout the ceremony; her love for her only sister became apparent as she stood next to her, realizing that things would never be quite the same again.

   After the reception at the church, we had a small reception at home for close friends and family. In the midst of the festivities, Kathi charged downstairs in her cheerleading outfit. It was the Homecoming Game and she still had time to make the last half. While the guests watched, amazed and amused, she kissed Cindy good-by and dashed out the door.

   "Typical," I sighed to myself.

   I had mixed emotions that night as I thought of losing my oldest daughter, yet I felt that now perhaps Kathi would draw closer to me. I resolved then to make it up to Kathi — all my impatience, all my intolerance; somehow I knew that we would grow to understand and appreciate each other.  

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