If my father were still alive today, he'd be 90, but people in my family don't live that long. He died in 1985.
He was sixty-four then.
People talk about oil and water not mixing. Putting my father and me together was like pouring
water on sulfuric acid. We didn't just belong in the same room together; we didn't belong in the
same state. Boom!
One reason I went to Utah to college was to put as much distance as I could between the two of
us. It never occurred to me at the time that the whole family undoubtedly breathed a huge sigh of
relief when I left.
When I used to go back to Louisiana on breaks during college and after I became an adult, I used
to pray for days ahead of time that my father and I would get along. By the time we got out of
the airport parking lot, we were fighting about something. Nobody wanted to be around the two
of us when we were together.
I used to think it was my father's fault. He wanted sons, and when he ended up with three
daughters he referred to himself as a "three-time loser." That's not something a child wants to
hear. When he died, the best thing the priest could say about him in the two-minute funeral
service was, "I guess he did the best he could." That's hardly a ringing endorsement of a
As I got older, however, I realized that I was not an innocent party. I was a child only a mother
could love, and Daddy was not my mother.
From the time I was very young I realized I was smarter than my father, and I never let him
forget it. To say I was obnoxious was a gross understatement. My father used to bellow,
"Respect me!" My answer was always, "I'll respect you when you deserve it."
Somebody should have sat me down and taught me the meaning of the Fifth Commandment. But
nobody did, and I plowed ahead, totally convinced that my father was the most horrible person
on the planet and I was his innocent victim.
How easily we convince ourselves that we're blameless, even as we sow the seeds of strife!
I may have gone on forever ignorant of my transgressions, if I hadn't heard a talk in sacrament
meeting on forgiveness. The speaker was Louise Wynn, and she gave the talk sometime in the
summer of 2002. She gave the talk at the time when I was the most receptive. Fluffy was in
Poughkeepsie for a six-week class, and I had a lot of time by myself to think.
During the talk, Louise said we needed to forgive our parents -- that we needed to sit down with
them and forgive them for not being perfect. I could hardly sit down with Daddy, what with him
being dead and all. But I realized I needed to forgive him anyway, so when church was over I got
in the car and drove around for a half hour. As I was driving I had a long-overdue conversation
with my long-deceased father.
I was pretty blunt in my one-way conversation. I started off, "You were a pretty bad father to me.
Let me tell you why." Then I went down the list of all the things he had done to hurt me over the
years. It was a long list.
Then I added, "In the interest of honesty, however, I have to tell you that I was a pretty rotten
daughter to you. I know you are well aware of all the things I did wrong, but I want to list them
for you anyway." I did, and I tried to be as brutally honest on his behalf as I had been on my
When I had come up with everything I could think of, I said, "I want you to know that I forgive
you for not being the parent I wanted, and I hope you forgive me for not being the child you
wanted. If I see you in the next life, I want to be able to thank you for taking on the thankless
task of being my father."
I don't know whether my father heard what I had to say. I think he did, but even if he didn't, that
conversation made all the difference in the world to me. The anger I'd been carrying around all
those years vanished in a moment. It never came back. That conversation was all it took.
I think most of us believe that we forgive others for their benefit. That's not the case. We forgive
others because of what it does to us. If you want to lose a hundred pounds, that's the fastest way
to do it. Your clothes may fit the same, but your spirit will be entirely different.
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
possiblity that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at
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.
Kathy 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 still moderates a weekly column
("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian. 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 writes a blog entry every
weekday. 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 teaches the Young Women in her ward. 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.