"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
March 18, 2013
Just as I Am
by Kathryn H. Kidd

I washed my hair today. Most people use that phrase, “washed my hair,” to mean they washed the 100,000 hairs that are on the average human head. When I use that phrase, I am referring to the one hair I have that is left.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. But I am losing hair by the handful. I dread combing it because I have to clean out my brush not once, but twice, during the process. At first glance, it appears that a large rat has taken up residence in my hairbrush. Now huge colonies of hair desert my head at once, leaving me for what they must assume are greener pastures. They must be so sad to find themselves in the garbage can.

This is not an exaggeration: I have lost about two thirds of the hairs on my head, and I am quickly heading toward baldness. I asked my doctor in the hospital about it, and her answer was, “After all you’ve been through, what did you expect?”

It’s time to start buying a lot of silly hats to conceal the inevitable. Although Fluffy assures me, “It will grow back,” there is obviously going to be a period when I am as bald as a hairless cat. I do not see any earthly use for a hairless cat, unless the cat owner is severely allergic. What’s going to happen when we have a hairless Kathy?

The kitten version of a hairless cat. You just want to wrap a rug around it to conceal its nakedness.

The same thing is true with my feet. I can barely wiggle the toes on the left foot, and that’s my good foot. My right foot is about as functional as a dead mackerel. The hardest part about sliding from my wheelchair to my bed is when I have to place my feet on a rug. The right foot is likely to be napping on its side, completely oblivious to the transfer. I have to manually pick up my legs by the knees to get the feet in the right position. Even then, the right foot stubbornly refuses to obey me — even when I use naughty words to communicate my displeasure.

And then there’s my brain. People who drop in for a casual visit rave about how I’m “the old Kathy.” People who actually have to work with me are getting a different impression altogether.

I am unable to read a book or to say my prayers, because my attention span is that of a gnat. Fluffy and I celebrated Christmas on Thursday, March 14, and my addled brain decided that March 14 was Christmas for everyone. Thus I didn’t do my editorial work on Thursday, and a friend and coworker bravely picked up the slack when she realized I was AWOL. I didn’t realize my oversight until I turned on the computer on Friday, when my email box was full of queries about Thursday’s (lack of) work. Fluffy likes this predicament, because he can tell me the same joke every day, and I will laugh as though it was the first time I have heard it.

I’m hoping all these things are temporary, but the bottom line is that we just don’t know. The jury is still out. I may yet grow a full head of hair, recover my feet, and regenerate my brain — but I may not. This “temporary” Kathy may turn out to be the new Kathy. What a bummer that would be!

Or maybe not. My patriarchal blessing has a sentence that says I will have “the health, the time, and the ability” to serve God the way He wants to be served, and I firmly believe that is true. Over the years as my health started to deteriorate and I began to use a walker and then a scooter, I was able to reach other people who were using walkers and scooters — people who would never have spoken to me otherwise. The same thing will no doubt happen if I go totally bald or if I stay in a wheelchair.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that we are all tools in God’s toolbox. He has a purpose for each of us, and we were all designed to be used in different ways. We can’t all be the hammer, and we cannot all be the wrench.

Some of the tools in the toolbox don’t want to be used. They lie there in the toolbox, still shiny and new. Other tools are scuffed and worn. They may not be pretty anymore, but they have been well used, and well cared for, by the Master Carpenter.

I want to be one of the ugly tools. If the way God wants to use me is to put me in a wheelchair, bald and wearing funny hats, let Him do it. I’m just glad He’s using me. I hope that whenever there is an opportunity for me to be of service, I see the need and perform it — whatever shape I happen to be in.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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