Dec 31 2015
Due to the busy holidays and long travel distances, many who would have liked to attend Kathy’s funeral could not. In response to many requests, I would like to share some of the pictures, comments, and memories of that event. It was a wonderful service, full of both laughter and tears. I hope Kathy was there in spirit (and I think she was), and I hope she enjoyed reviewing the joys and triumphs of her exemplary life. We miss you already Kathy, but we draw comfort from the words, pictures, and memories that you left behind. – Fluffy.
(click any image to enlarge)
Talk by John Karren
(John and his wife Michelle have been friends for many years, and John is currently assigned as one of our Home Teachers.)
As we all know, Kathy was a prolific writer and self-declared “Queen of the Universe.” When you open her webpage you are greeted with “Welcome to Planet Kathy. The unusual universe of Kathryn H. Kidd.”
As the opening speaker and looking at today’s line up of other speakers 0n the program AND because Kathy can’t say it herself …“Welcome to this celebration on Planet Kathy of what will be a memorable and ‘unusual’ tribute to Kathryn H. Kidd.”
Kathy and Clark are a pair of well-traveled companions that have documented their trips with eclectic photos of food, hotel lobbies, boardwalks and roadside signs. On a recent trip to Atlantic City, Kathy snapped a photo of a sign that captures the force of nature that she was in this world. “Be the Kind of Woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil says, “Oh no, She’s is up!” (Living the High Life on a Budget.)
If Kathy had a motto for her life I think it would be, “It’s much more fun to believe in the possibility than to be discouraged by the improbability.” (Quoted from Dr. Julia Ogden, Murdoch Mysteries) When asked how she was, a cheery “Life is good!” would be her reply.
I love and adore Kathryn H. Kidd. I mourn our loss of her and rejoice in her life and her love for me and for us all. We are going to hear stories from her life that will amaze us. She was very quiet about the amazing things she did and was doing. Even though she had a big personality and a big heart, she was subtle in her service to others.
I was touched and honored to know that Kathy asked that I speak at her funeral. I thought at first it was because I was her Home Teacher for the last several years but then I realized it was because I was her favorite. Sorry Clark! I didn’t know if you knew that. When I tell my wife, Michelle, this fact she likes to correct and remind me that it is she who is Kathy’s favorite. Now, I am sure many of you out there are disagreeing with me right now and thinking, “Hey wait a minute. I am her favorite.” And this was Kathy’s greatest gift . . . making us all feel as if Planet Kathy orbited around us. As the Queen of the Universe, she put us in the middle of it and made us feel like the shining stars of her universe. She served us all so well by simply loving us and showing how interested she was in our lives.
Her interest came as a thank you card sent after a talk or lesson given at church, a covetous mention of you in her writings or emailing a photo she took of you at one of the events she and Clark attended (birthday, baptism, graduation, ward party, white elephant exchange). I am pretty sure that she is floating around this chapel right now with her purple camera around her neck taking pictures of all of us for the blog she is working on now in the Spirit world. Be careful though, because she never gave you time to pose for a photo. She loved posting the candid shots, no matter how terrible you looked in them with a mouth full of food or a gape mid-sentence. Here is my pose for you today Kathy in one of your favorite ties (pausing and smiling up at her).
Another way she made us feel special was the nicknames she has for us. Our favorite of course is the nickname of her eternal love “Fluffy” and then coming in second is “Sweet Pea”. How many of you would get an enthusiastic “Hello Sweet Pea” when you saw her? (Note: Over half the congregation raised their hands)
I was crushed when I overheard her calling someone else Sweet Pea. I always thought that was her special name for me but I still think she says it to me with a little more sparkle than the rest, because of course, I am her favorite. But in reality I think two weeks ago when she crossed over the veil and met the Savior she greeted him with a, “Hi Sweet Pea, I am glad I finally croaked because you are my favorite.” She had a deep love and true understanding of the principles of salvation and the Savior’s personal role in our lives and his message of loving us as his unconditional favorite.
Love is one of the most powerful positive forces in existence. It is one of the strongest statements in all of scripture, Moroni wrote: “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing” (Moroni 7:46). Kathy understood this so well. She knew that no matter how competent we might be, how bright, how talented, how athletic, how attractive, how hardworking—if we are not acting out of love, we are nothing. Kathy was one of those people that did not often think of herself. She was not trying to prove anything to anyone. She simply reached out in love and looked for those moments to lift others.
She understood the real power in simply reaching out to others and becoming acquainted. She knew that it started with being friendly and interested in others, because that was the way to move from acquaintance to lasting friendship.
She had a special kind of love where she rejoiced more in the happiness of others than in her own successes. She was like Alma when he met Ammon and his brothers following their mission to the Lamanites. Alma rejoiced in his own success, but he rejoiced even more in the success of his brethren: “Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy” (Alma 29:16). She not only rejoiced in others’ joy but understood others’ pain and needs. She was motivated by wanting all those that she loved to be with her in eternity and she loved us that way.
In one of her blog postings she wrote: “I don’t know about you but the Savior’s banquet is one that I do not want to miss. I want to be at the table, with my napkin in my lap and I want my loved ones to be there with me. If there is an oil lamp that is required of us, I want mine filled, with its wick trimmed and ready to go. I want your lamps filled, too, because I care about you.” (Party of Two.)
She understood that when others’ needs start to matter more than our own, and when others’ successes and happiness are more exciting to us than our own, we are beginning to experience the kind of love that our Father in Heaven, our Savior and Kathy have for us. It is a love without dimension. It has no boundaries, no limitations. It is pure. It is infinite. It is eternal. Oh, how I want to have more of this kind of love for others as Kathy showed us. Thanks Kathy for teaching us all.
She taught us that when we care for someone, we want to do something for them. Kathy was convinced that there are people all around us who needed the specific caring that only we could give. She believed that we all need to open our eyes and our ears and our hearts so that we specifically know what we need to do for others.
One of my favorites of her blog postings captures her philosophy perfectly on giving help. It is about a group of well-meaning trivia cruise mates that asked to join Kathy and Clark’s rising fame as the dynamic duo known to all as the Virginia Hams: “How many times have I thought I was helping someone, only to do exactly the wrong thing that was needed? Instead of looking at what is comfortable for us to offer, we should look instead to see what the person on the other end” (Dealing with Helpful People.)
We are all on our way to somewhere. We are all making our way forward in life. We are either giving light or taking light from each other as we move forward on our way. Kathy was a bright light giver despite her many obstacles and limitations. Many of us would have only shone a dim light under her circumstances.
She taught us how to give when she wrote: “This life is not supposed to be fair. It is a series of tests, and how we respond to those tests measure our worth as human beings.
As the bible says in Matthew, “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). No matter how many good works you do, it is not an insurance policy. Bad things are going to happen to you. Where will we be when one of our friends is caught in a thunderstorm? Will be be safely at home, curled up with a book, or will we be standing next to them, holding an umbrella?”(Floods of Water and Blessings.)
Kathy, we know that you will continue to orbit our lives holding an umbrella over us when it rains because you are our friend and you love us. You have inspired all of us to make the Savior our favorite through your example among us. When we do as you have done then we are able to bring His love and salvation into the lives of others as our favorites to honor you and him. Thank you Kathy for the love and light that you were and will forever be to us all.
Talk by Richard L. Brown
(Dick and Hazie Brown have been friends since we moved to Virginia in 1987. We have worked together with them in church assignments, and played together with them on cruises and in other adventures.)
Today we have met to dedicate this time and this service to the memory of our much loved friend Kathy Kidd. Even though this is a difficult time for all who knew and loved Kathy, it is altogether proper for us to reflect upon the noble things of her life and celebrate her goodness in cherished memories. Kathy had some remarkable qualities that often lifted and inspired others. She was genuinely concerned about others, was kind and had a giving spirit. She was also not shy about sharing her thoughts and opinions on almost any subject. Although she had some significant physical limitations, she would do whatever ever she could to bring love, hope and good will to others. Kathy was a sterling example of someone who was positive, upbeat and cheerful in spite of unending health challenges in her life. We would talk frequently about the chronic pain and discomfort she endured and how difficult it was for her to get around and perform the simple tasks of life that most of us just don’t think about. But in spite of her circumstance, she refused to let it dampen her cheerfulness, her enthusiasm, her desire to explore the world and seek new adventures, and her commitment to serve others. She and Clark went on ocean cruises by themselves and with friends; she helped fix meals for participants in youth conferences and many, many other church activities; she planned and organized celebrations and events on behalf of others, taught classes, and did much good while suffering with pain and hardship that would have rendered many of us shut-ins. No matter how she felt, no matter the adversity or the hardship she would always say, “life is good,” and when asked how she felt, would often declare, “just spiffy.” I truly admired her determination to face the trials of life in a cheerful, positive way. She frequently expressed gratitude for her blessings—for her loving husband, her friends, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and just the joy of another day. She never gave up. Where most of us might simply quit trying, she would press on—struggling and suffering, but happy and grateful. To me, Kathy was a marvelous example of someone who was “patient, full of love, willing to submit cheerfully to the all the will of the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19; Mosiah 24:15). The memory of that example will always be a rich blessing in my life.
The sorrow we all feel today will abate with time, but it will never entirely disappear. It will return in flashes on anniversaries and birthdays, holidays and special occasions, and will creep up slowly on lonely nights. The hurt is real. Only its intensity varies. It is a natural response in complete accord with divine commandment: The Lord has said, “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch as thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die.” To take sorrow out of death would be to take love out of life. And Kathy’s example of her love for God and for others will help sustain those of us who had the privilege of associating with her.
Yet, like all of life’s experiences, Kathy’s passing can give us opportunity to gain perspective and understanding of many of the feelings and emotions which govern our earthly existence. Today is a time for remembering the happiness of the past, feeling the sorrow of the present, and anticipating the joy of the future. It is a time for introspection, contemplation and resolution; a time for sorrow, but also a time for rejoicing.
Death is that inevitable part of life that is anticipated by some, feared by many and understood by few. It often comes at a time when we expect it least, interrupting the joys of life and changing our dreams for the future. It is indiscriminate. Infants, children, youth and aged alike are visited with what can often seem like illogical attack. In certain situations, it comes as an angel of mercy, but for the most part we think of it as an enemy, intent on extinguishing the light of life and destroying the prospect of happiness. But Kathy made it very clear that she did not fear death, instead, she looked forward to it as a gateway to a new adventure in life. Kathy had an abiding faith in the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessings of the resurrection. She always took special comfort in the teachings of the prophet Alma when he said, “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23) She especially looked forward to the proper and perfect frame promise of this scripture.
Kathy also had an abiding hope in Christ. “I am the resurrection, and the light,” He taught. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” The scriptures teach us: “Death hath passed upon all men to fulfill the merciful plan of the great Creator.” Birth and death are both essential steps in the unfolding adventure of eternity. Those like Kathy who place their hope in Christ and in the power of His resurrection find that death is not to be feared but is to be reverenced and appreciated as an important step in our Father’s eternal plan to exalt His children.
If we are to place death in its proper perspective in the eternal scheme of things, we must first learn the purposes of life. We must know from whence we came, whose we are, and why He placed us here. Only then can we envision whither we shall go in the providence of Him who made us. The faith that sustains this knowledge was ever a part of Kathy’s life. She believed that we are spirit children of heavenly parents who lived with them pre-mortally; and that we were sent here, into this an imperfect world, that we might learn good from evil and have the opportunity to feel the perfect, infinite love of God through our earthly experiences. She understood that life does not begin with birth, nor does it end with death. Before we came to this life we knew of and wanted the risks of mortality, which would allow the exercise of agency and accountability. This life was to become a probationary state: a time to prepare to meet God. (Alma 23:24). But we regarded the returning home as the best part of that long-awaited trip. Before embarking on any journey, we like to have some assurance of a round-trip ticket. Returning from earth to life in our heavenly home requires passage through—not around—the portals of death. We are born to die and we die to live. (2 Cor. 6:9). As seedlings of God, we barely blossom on earth; we fully flower in heaven.
The scriptures teach that death is essential to happiness. The prophet Alma taught, “Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness.” (Alma 42:8; 2 Ne. 9:6) But that happiness does not come without trial. God in His infinite wisdom gives us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls, temptations to test our strength, and sickness that we might learn patience. (Pres. Kimball)
As spirit children of a loving Father, and before we came to this earth, we shouted for joy at the privilege of becoming mortal. We now sing praises to the great Redeemer for the privilege of passing from this life; because without death and the resurrection we could not be raised in immortal glory and gain eternal life.
Kathy knew and understood these truths. She knew that if we are true and faithful in this life we will not fall by the wayside in the life to come, and her life was an example of her testimony of that knowledge. Her faith exemplified that of our pioneer forbearers when they sang:
And should we die before our journey’s through,
Happy day! All is Well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
I am certain that at this time Kathy is indeed happy. She is happy to be free from the infirmities and sorrows of the flesh and is rejoicing in her opportunity to serve God and others without physical limitations.
Now we should not seek death, though it is a part of the merciful plan of the great Creator. Rather we should rejoice in life, and desire to live as long as we can be of service to our fellowmen. But come what may, anything that befalls us here in mortality is but for a small moment, and if we are true and faithful God will eventually exalt us on high.
We shall, through Christ, be raised from mortality to immortality, from corruption to incorruption. We shall come forth in physical perfection.
We rejoice in life. We rejoice in death. We have no desires except to do the will of Him whose we are and to dwell with Him in His kingdom at the appointed time. Our separation from Kathy is only temporary. Our challenge is to follow her example and submit to the will of the Father, patiently enduring all things that, having taken upon ourselves the name of Christ, we might stand before Him and hear him say to us, “Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant. . . enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matt 25:21). Jesus Christ is the key. It is through Him and by Him and of Him that we will once again be able to rejoice with Kathy in our eternal service to God.
This hope in Christ and His promise of the resurrection to an incorruptible, eternal life brings to those of us who believe in Him comfort, strength, and peace.
It is my testimony that this hope in the resurrection through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is available to all of God’s children. It does not matter to which faith they belong, into which race they were born, or what their destiny has been in this mortal existence. I know that because of our Savior’s infinite sacrifice, we will all be resurrected and will live again. We will have the opportunity to meet and greet those we have loved in this life as well as those we knew and loved before. For as the scripture reminds us, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
As we mourn Kathy’s passing, may God bless each of us with the comfort and peace that comes from a hope in Christ and a knowledge and understanding of God’s divine plan for the salvation of each of His children, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Vocal Solo by Orson Scott Card
(Our long-time friend Scott Card honored Kathy with a beautiful solo rendition of Amazing Grace. I’m sorry that we did not think to record it, because it was wonderful.)
Eulogy by Dale Van Atta
(Dale and Kathy were friends since attending BYU together in the early 1970s. Dale and his wife Lynne moved to Virginia from Utah, and then the Kidds followed a few years later and moved into the same ward. Clark provided the foundation for this eulogy, but then Dale fleshed it out with many of his most-cherished memories of Kathy.)
This will be a tribute from a writer to a writer, with a great assist from another writer — her husband Clark, who provided a fine template on which to build this eulogy.
I was deeply honored when Clark asked me to deliver Kathy’s eulogy. In the case that she preceded me in death, Kathy herself had asked me on several occasions to speak at her funeral, and secured a promise for same. I am here in humble fulfillment of that pledge to my beautiful and ever-faithful friend of 44 years.
So we begin. Strap yourself in and settle back for the Ride of Kathy’s Life.
The first Hurricane Katrina — Kathy — hit New Orleans 65 years ago. She made landfall in a local hospital close to her mother — fortunately — on April 3, 1950. Kathy was a normal new born, which meant she came out looking like Winston Churchill. “Having never been a mother,” she wrote, “I can’t see the difference in babies when they are small. They all look like Winston Churchill to me.” (From Flat to Fluffy.)
She was given the name Patricia Kathryn Helms, but she never saw herself as a Patricia. Too genteel, perhaps.
In college, she often signed her name, P.K. Helms, which her friends suggested meant “Pretty Kool” until she derided them for mis-spelling “cool” with a “k.” She was a stickler for proper spelling and grammar. “Kathryn the Great” would suffice, she announced. After she married Clark, whose love elevated her self-confidence to more galactic dimensions, she let it be known that “Queen of the Universe” was the preferred sobriquet.
Her entrance into the Helms household was followed two years later by sister Sandee, whose daughter is with us today, and, two years after that, a second sister, Susie, who has also come from Louisiana to be here for Kathy.
The Helms family of five lived in various places around New Orleans, eventually settling in the small town of Mandeville, located 35 miles from New Orleans across the Lake Pontchartrain (Pon-cha-train) Causeway.
The Helms sisters got into their fair share of trouble as youngsters. One day their parents walked into the living room to find Kathy gleefully sticking scissors into the new sofa. She and Sandee had been eating the stuffing that came out, which may explain Kathy’s lifetime love of Thanksgiving stuffing.
At a young age, Kathy was diagnosed with dyslexia, and her doctor recommended they solve that problem by teaching her to read. One result of this was that Kathy always had the ability to write cursive backwards. She would often sign her name backwards, but could actually write any text that way. Another positive result of this treatment was Kathy’s lifetime love of reading and books.
Kathy was a precocious child, and she was never afraid to tell someone when they were wrong. One of her high school teachers later admitted that all the teachers were afraid of her, as they were embarrassed when she corrected their grammar or other mistakes in front of the other students. Kathy sometimes described herself at this age as “a child only a mother could love,” and her father likely agreed the day he came home to find his young princess had just allowed a stranger to walk off with the family’s brand new lawnmower because the stranger told Kathy that her father had asked him (the stranger) to fix her father’s allegedly botched assembly job on the mower. As would often be the case, she was far more open and trusting than life showed her she should be.
Consider this powerful story she told about an experience in second or third grade.
“I desperately wanted to take ballet lessons,” she said. “Half the little girls in the world back in those days wanted to be ballerinas, and the other half wanted to ride horses. I never wanted to ride horses. I thought they were sweating poop machines then, and I still think that’s what they are.
“I signed up for ballet lessons, which were held in the afternoons at the Catholic school. The Catholic school was scary enough, because everyone in New Orleans was either Catholic or Protestant, and depending on which flavor you were, you were always told the other group was on the fast track to hell. Just going to the Catholic school for my ballet classes was putting me squarely in the enemy camp.
“After I’d taken ballet classes for only a few weeks, the teacher was looking for a student to demonstrate a technique and called me up to the front of the class. She had me demonstrate the technique, but noooo …. that wasn’t enough.
“She then told the class … that I had a natural talent for ballet. She said I was so good at ballet that I could be a professional ballerina, if I kept at it. And then she administered the kiss of death. She added to the class, ‘It’s too bad she’s so ugly.'”
She was not ugly, of course, but the then-innocent Kathy did not know that.
“I left that class and never danced again — not ballet, not anything… Too bad I never told my mother about my experience with the teacher. She may have given me just the pep talk I needed. Mothers are like that. But they aren’t mind readers, and I didn’t say a word, so the pep talk I so desperately needed was never given. Pity.” (From Flat to Fluffy.)
The ballet teacher’s cruelty was the first of a long series of unwarranted slings and arrows cast at Kathy throughout her life — like one of her grandmothers who, at Kathy’s wedding, icily declared: “Here’s your gift. I’ve never liked you, and now I can finally write you off my list!”
In choosing a reaction, Kathy consistently refused to be a victim, meeting hurtful remarks with outward cheerfulness. And she adopted a code for public discourse which was: “If you can’t say anything nice — or at least constructive or helpful — keep your mouth shut even if you have to bite your tongue.”
As Kathy got older, moving from elementary school to high school, her life took a more positive turn. She involved herself in school activities, including clubs and councils for which she often served as President or some other leadership office.
When it was time for college, Kathy surprised her parents by telling them she wanted to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Kathy knew little about the school, except that smoking was not allowed on campus. Many of the colleges in Louisiana had ashtrays installed right in the desks, and she wanted to get away from the annoying smoke. To her surprise, her parents supported her decision.
Kathy was always a religious person, but described herself as a “generic Protestant.” Her mother was an Episcopalian, but they usually just visited whatever Protestant church that was close to their home.
Kathy’s mother warned her that people at BYU would make fun of her — not because she was not a Mormon, but because she was a Southerner. “Mother was right,” Kathy recalled. “When I got to BYU, there were people who ridiculed me for being a Southerner. There weren’t many, fortunately, although one history professor was merciless. It is easy to make fun of Southerners. We talk funny — or at least, I did at first. I got it beaten out of me pretty quickly.” (It’s UnAmerican to Say ‘American’.)
The occasional slurs against the South were more than offset by a religious doctrine that was so Christ-centered and true that Kathy found it compelling, especially when she enjoyed association with more luminous adherents of the faith at BYU. She soon desired to be baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The only problem was that they made her take the missionary discussions, and she found them to be rote and manipulative. After going through several sets of missionaries, either she or the missionaries finally gave in, and she was baptized.
One doctrine she found particularly alluring was the concept of Patriarchal Blessings, and she received hers within a week of being baptized. One of the things her blessing revealed was that God had given her “certain missions to perform here upon this earth which no one else was asked to do.” Given the unique course of her life, this seems to be one portion of the blessing that was certainly prophetic. Priesthood blessings were always important road maps for Kathy. She would record and transcribe them, and then have them laminated. She kept them all in a folder by her bed, would read them often and referred to them as “my personal scripture.”
Kathy was quite impoverished during college, and in the early years she had a food budget of $5 per week. She would often cook “chicken neck and garlic soup.” If she ran out of soup before the end of the week, she would eat the free blue cheese dressing that was offered in the cafeterias. When she lived off-campus, and a small monthly inheritance royalty check was above the usual $3, she would buy and fry a whole chicken and make a stupendous meal, which was eagerly consumed by friends far and near, including myself. In my memory, I can still taste those heavenly Southern-fried chickens.
Kathy had her own language in college. Boogle Doogle was her go-to phrase and it could mean anything. Something could be hotter than boogle doogle, or colder than boogle doogle. It was the ultimate superlative. Kathy frequently shortened it to BD, just as Valentine’s Day was always V.D. She called me and many others “sweetie” because she said it was easier than remembering individual names. When I objected, she countered with perverse pleasure by calling me “Sweaty” instead of “sweetie” for a time. I was but a brother she could tease, so I got “Sweaty” while the love of her life, Clark, got the friendly nickname “Fluffy,” a fond reference to his whimsical follicles.
Kathy chose to study journalism in college, and first became an editor for BYU’s Banyan yearbook, whose staff shared offices with the Daily Universe, the student newspaper where I then worked in the fall of 1971. It wasn’t long before I was irresistibly drawn into the gravitational pull of Planet Kathy. I believe the moment of no return came when we were idly recounting our most embarrassing moments at BYU, and she took the cake.
When she was living in the dorms a year or two before, some girls decided to play a prank on her by snatching her clothes and her towel while she was in the shower. It was more mischievous than malicious probably, since the dorm was not coed. However, when Kathy finally ventured into the hall with only the washcloth she had been using, a warning shout was given: “Men on the floor!” Her Ward Bishopric was coming down the hall from the far end, and she only had a moment to make a crucial decision. As she recounted, “With just the washcloth, and so many areas to be protected from public view, I covered my face. Perhaps they wouldn’t recognize me.”
Kathy could appreciate the practical joke because she herself was a prankster of the first order.
When Kathy became part of the Daily Universe student newspaper staff, she joined a few of us in attending Bio-Ag 105 together. Because it was a popular and easy science credit, the classroom was held in an amphitheater which accommodated more than 100 students. Kathy plotted in a series of hi jinks to crack up our good-humored professor.
She once had several pizzas delivered to “Dale Van Atta,” as the delivery boy announced at the door, while the class was in session.
As the savory aroma filled the room, a hundred hungry students, most of whom had not had breakfast, did not look upon me kindly — so I was grateful the teacher appropriated the pizzas, paid for them and disbursed them as he chose.
One of this professor’s favorite expressions when a student answered correctly was: “Give that young man (or girl) a Snickers bar!” Kathy bought dozens of Snickers candy bars so that when he uttered those words one particularly day, we were prepared to launch them in his direction — which we did.
But the piece de resistance came when our professor — after espousing a special affinity for the sheep he had once raised — announced that he was bound by the curriculum to lecture on the steps for butchering a lamb in the following week’s class. It was a hard lecture for him to give, he said. Before that lecture came around, Kathy found a half-dozen children’s toy boxes which, when turned upside down, produced the sound of a herd of lowing sheep.
Then came the wonderful day of that memorable class period. As the teacher began to describe with emotion the first stroke of the lamb’s slaughter, we turned our toy boxes over on cue and a chorus of plaintive, bleating lambs filled the room. He laughed so hard that he had to hold his sides for relief, then canceled the rest of the class and gave us a thumbs up on our way out. “Best one yet!”
Finally, there was the fishbowl fiasco. Kathy was living off-campus in a house where one roommate (Daryl Gibson) had a small fish in a little bowl in her bedroom. She had grown weary of the fish, and her roommates knew it. When it died, she was grateful. She was tired of cleaning the bowl. She dispatched the dead fish down the toilet, and ran off to class without emptying the bowl. When she returned, another fish was mysteriously swimming in the desktop bowl. When that one died, another magically reappeared.
Frustrated at this triple unwanted motherhood, she begged the unknown perpetrator to cease and desist. Of course, Kathy was the provocateur, and of course it was not over. When the third one died, Daryl came home from class to find a huge koi pond fish in the bowl — so big that it filled the bowl and couldn’t turn around. His big eyeball pressed against the side of the bowl, so they compassionately transferred it to a laundry bucket on the floor of their living room. They did not realize that koi can jump. The next morning, the young ladies awoke to find it lying on the carpet, deceased.
During Kathy’s college years, her mother died, which had an impact on her studies, as did several health issues which popped up during those years. In the main, however, the real cause for her lackluster GPA was that Kathy had embraced with convenient passion the admonishment from her journalism professors that job experience was more important than grades. She got lots of on-the-job experience, but generally didn’t study much. On the very day Kathy graduated from BYU in 1973, she also got a letter notifying her that she was being placed on academic probation.
Still, her professors were right about the experience, since immediately after graduation she was offered a position at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, where she had earlier served as a summer intern. Kathy loved the variety of being a reporter, and she served in many different roles, including being the first female assigned to the coveted federal government beat. At other times, she was also the zoo reporter, religion reporter, police reporter and obituary writer.
When I was hired a few months after Kathy by the Deseret News from a Rochester, New York, newspaper, I crossed the country in the wonderful Oldsmobile she had sold me as my first car, which she had named “Sally Forth.” With unfailing generosity, it was Kathy who located and arranged for me an apartment on First Avenue in advance of my arrival, which, by her positively fateful action, put me in a ward where I would discover and marry my wonderful wife.
Kathy was living in an apartment on “L” Street, and attended a ward for single members. One day a young man named Clark Kidd showed up as a new tenant. Kathy saw Clark a couple of times in church, but didn’t pay much attention to him. Their first interaction was when they came into the building at the same time and Clark held the security door open for Kathy. Instead of thanking him, she, adopting an expression that suggested she had just smelled a rotten egg, remarked: “Oh, you’re growing a mustache. I hate facial hair.” Just to prove that he was as stubborn as she was, Clark kept the mustache for another 30 years.
Kathy finally got interested in Clark, and hosted a Halloween party just to meet him. Two months later, she invited Clark to help her with a Sub-for-Santa project the Deseret News was doing. They spent a lot of time together buying, wrapping, and delivering gifts — an activity which made them realize they “kind of liked each other,” as Clark put it. Because of this, the Christmas season was always a particularly joyous one for Clark and Kathy.
In Clark, Kathy had found someone who could give as well as he got. Kathy once covered Clark’s front license plate with a large pair of pink panties, which adorned his car for almost a week before he noticed it. Clark took revenge by mailing them to Kathy’s sister just before Kathy was scheduled to visit her.
During their courting days, Clark and Kathy met Scott Card through a mutual friend (Kathy Jenkins). Scott was working as an editor for the Ensign magazine, and he would often drop by and play Scrabble, Acquire, or other board games. Those games have continued through the years. They have one score sheet that covers 15 years of games, as their friendship and association has continued over the years and miles.
After about a year of dating Kathy and Clark decided to get married. Then Clark got cold feet, and it took him another year to take the big step. They were finally married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 18, 1976, in a ceremony that included Scott, myself and my wife, and a few other family and friends. They moved into their first real home which Clark had purchased earlier on Princeton Avenue.
In about 1980, Clark and Kathy collaborated on their first project when they developed a board game called Free Agency. It was similar to the game of Life, but based around LDS concepts. They found an interested backer, and the game sold at Deseret Book for several years. A few years later, Scott was working for a computer book company, and encouraged Clark and Kathy to write some educational games for various brands of home computers. They wrote several books and they sold pretty well, Clark recounts.
In 1987, Clark received a job offer in Virginia. Ironically, they had visited northern Virginia for the first time about a year before, and decided it was one place they would never want to live. But the feeling to move was strong, so the Kidds made the big move into my ward. I had come to Washington D.C. to work as an investigative reporter and co-columnist with Jack Anderson. Among my sweetest memories are the many Christmas afternoon and Easter dinners our families shared.
Here in Virginia, Kathy met up again with another old college friend, Charles Carriker, and went to work for his company, writing fund-raising letters for conservative groups in the U.S., Australia, and England. With her irrepressible smile, Kathy said with pride: “I have the distinction of having my junk mail thrown in the trash on three continents.” (Never mind that England was not a continent — her claim remained the same. Kathy’s Planet was however she chose to describe it.)
By 1989, the Kidds’ friend Scott Card left the corporate world and moved to North Carolina to devote full-time to an impressive freelance career which included the best-selling Ender’s Game series. Now in the East with the Kidds, Scott persuaded Kathy to write several books for his new LDS publishing company. Her first book was a humorous LDS fiction novel called Paradise Vue, and was well received. It was about the quirky members of a ward whose west-facing chapel on Salt Lake City’s east bench had been designed with a large stained-glass and clear-glass window, which meant the congregants had to wear sunglasses to see the sun-drenched, haloed speakers during afternoon meetings.
Besides Paradise Vue and other books, Kathy and Scott notably co-wrote a science fiction novel called Lovelock.
Throughout her LDS life, Kathy had a series of ward callings in the Relief Society and Young Women organizations. She also devoted herself to helping Clark fill his callings as well, and they had lots of fun doing events together such as the annual bishops’ training meeting sponsored by the stake.
Since her baptism in 1971, Kathy has been unwavering in her support of the Church and the gospel. She went the extra mile in filling her callings, and did many good things of her own initiative. When an excommunicated ward member tried to embarrass the Church with negative articles and letters, Kathy wrote her own letters and articles in response. Shortly after that, Elder Neal A. Maxwell attended our stake conference, and made a special effort to meet Kathy and thank her for her efforts.
In 1995, the Kidds were called to serve as ordinance workers in the Washington D.C. temple. They were still serving at the time of Kathy’s death. Even after her health declined, Kathy would serve in the office answering phones, greeting patrons and giving out candy. In that calling and others, she was determined to be the kind of woman, she said, who, when her feet hit the floor each morning, caused the Devil to say with alarm, “Oh no, she‘s up!”
Beginning in 1997, Kathy and Clark published several non-fiction LDS books through Bookcraft and later Deseret Book. They are most proud of their first book, A Convert’s Guide to Mormon Life, which was written in response to President Hinckley’s admonition to better support new converts. The book won a 1998 AML Award for Devotional Literature, and is still in print.
Also, from the earliest days of home computers, Kathy was enthusiastically involved with the online LDS world. For several years, she was the moderator of the Mormon area on AOL, which eventually transitioned to a similar web site called Nauvoo.com. She was affiliated with Meridian Magazine from 2004-2013, writing columns, acting as managing editor for a time, and running their popular “Circle of Sisters” forum. From 2012 to the present, she has performed similar functions for Scott’s Nauvoo Times web site. Four years ago, Kathy also established her own blog and web site, appropriately named Planet Kathy.
Finally, I would like to address for a moment just how great was Kathy’s endurance to the end with full faith in God and a testimony of redeeming power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
More than a decade ago, although she ate no more or differently than many of us, Kathy began to gain weight unexpectedly. It was inexplicable. Doctors at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere were never able to diagnose what it was that caused this swift-growing gain, but concluded that it could not be explained by her diet, nor be significantly decelerated by a change in that diet.
I can report that during one priesthood blessing several years ago, the Lord verified that this unwanted enlargement had not occurred of her own volition. Much like Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” it was a spirit-building trial she was given in latter days to help prepare her to meet God and his Beloved Son. The voice for that blessing was given a glimpse of her true spirit and body, and was stunned by how startlingly beautiful she truly was — and is, now, freed from her latter-day corporal imprisonment.
But while she endured this, this large frame for her spirit seemed to give license to some doctors, nurses, paramedics and other strangers to adopt a rudeness that was often cruel and entirely unwarranted. She parried with humor, often self-deprecating, and took blows with a cheerful countenance. This was not an easy or a natural thing for her to do. It took work and heart. She reckoned she could endure it because she had the unflinching support of Heavenly Father and her husband. God had given her this un-diagnosed condition, and she knew He loved her. And Clark? He was the gallant knight to his beloved damsel in distress. He was always, always, always, by her side. “They were jerks, complete idiots,” he would soothe in private moments, with a kiss or a headrub. They could not see what he saw.
But it still hurt, and she evolved into a true example of courage and faith as she bore it with equanimity and resolve. After one particularly rude round of hospital attendance, she wrote: “It is only God who sees us completely. It is only God who knows us from the inside out. The next time I am tempted to nod my head sagely and think I know what is going on the mind or the heart of another, I hope I remember the doctors in the hospital — each of whom looked at a small piece of me and thought he knew the whole.” (The Elephant and the Hospital.)
From the depths of her own soul and injury, she affirmed the divinity of the Savior’s words, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
In December of 2012, Kathy was rushed to the hospital with a case of sepsis. She was put into a medically-induced coma to allow her body to heal. After a three-month stay in three different hospitals, she defied the doctors’ predictions and came home. The remaining years of her life were a series of challenges as she struggled mightily to regain her health. She made some great progress, but never fully recovered. She never let her problems define her, or stop her from being a cheerleader for others. Despite the challenges of the last three years, Clark and Kathy enjoyed this last little season as a time of increased affection and appreciation for each other.
On December 14th, at the end of viewing one of their guilty pleasures on TV, “Forensic Files,” Kathy told Clark that she loved him, and made her way upstairs to bed. By her request, Clark was not allowed to watch her slow progress up the 15 steps. Once he could hear her upstairs, the practice was to call up and whistle, listening for Kathy’s wolf whistle in return to confirm she was settled. That night when he whistled, it went unanswered. He hurried upstairs to find her beside the bed, having slipped away quietly and in relative peace. She was unresponsive to his ministrations. Paramedics arrived. She was given CPR and taken to the hospital, but all attempts to revive her failed, and she passed away just before midnight, leaving ahead of us to that place from whose bourn no traveler returns. And how wonderful must be her Paradise View now!
Kathy found her own path in life, but was always a devoted daughter of God. She could be sassy, blunt, and irreverent, but her love for Christ and for others always showed through. Despite a lifetime of challenges, she rarely complained, and always tried to lift and encourage others.
Speaking about the Biblically-prophesied “marriage supper” of the Savior in the world beyond this one, she wrote: “I don’t know about you, but the Savior’s banquet is one that I do not want to miss. I want to be at the table, with my napkin on my lap, and I want my loved ones to be there with me. If there is an oil lamp that is required of us, I want mine to be filled, with its wick trimmed and ready to go. I want your oil lamps to be filled, too, because I care about you.” (Party of Two.)
She was a grand and good lady who made the world better when she was in it. She will be monumentally missed by many of us. Farewell Kathy. God be with you till we meet again. “Keep love’s banner floating o’er you; smite death’s threatening wave before you.” God be with you — and us all — until we meet at Jesus’ feet. This is my hope and prayer, in the Savior’s holy name, Amen.
Remarks by Clark L. Kidd
(I had planned to write these remarks and have my good friend [and Home Teacher] Mike Egerer read them, fearing that my emotions would not be up to the task. After reading them, Mike suggested it would be more appropriate for me to express them. He was correct, and it was only proper for me to pay tribute to my sweet Kathy.)
I have always believed that the dearly-departed are allowed to tarry for their own funerals, and that Kathy is here today, at least in spirit. If that is the case, I’m sure I’m in deep trouble. “Fluffy,” I can almost hear her say, “Why did you use that horrible picture of me on the front cover?” “It looks like my hair has never made the acquaintance of a hair brush!”
Kathy, please accept my apology. But I think that picture reflects the Kathy that many of us loved. Perhaps not always perfectly quaffed, but bubbly, witty, outspoken, sassy, and with a great appreciation for life, for God and for all that He has created.
I would like to express appreciation today for four things.
First, I am so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from all of you. On the night that Kathy died, I was in the deepest pit imaginable, and doubted that I would ever be able to climb out. But then word started to spread, and people mentioned that they were praying for Kathy’s family. Not just the people here, but people all over the world who were posting condolences online. I also received a wonderful blessing of comfort, and many visits, cards, emails, meals, and invitations to holiday events. Perhaps I should not have been out socializing at such a time, but being around others who loved us was a great balm to my soul. Thank you for the many hours of service that have been given, and the plans that have been changed to serve our family at this busy time of year. I’m not out of that pit yet, but I’m climbing.
Because Kathy was so involved in the online community, word of her passing spread quickly. I started to save all of the comments that were posted, but soon gave up. In addition to comments on my own Facebook account, there were many other tributes, including three from organizations with which she was affiliated. The comments were touching, and made me realize how many lives she had touched, and how deeply some of those lives had been touched. Many found hope from her books when they were discouraged or having their faith challenged. Many had been encouraged by her when they were struggling with problems. Many writers stated that Kathy had encouraged and counseled them when they were just starting and doubted their abilities. Most said they were just going to miss the happy musings from her weekly blog posts and other writings.
Second, I am grateful for the last wonderful three years that Kathy and I shared. When she was in her coma in 2012, doctors were skeptical she would survive. I spent many hours on my knees pleading with the Lord that she would not be taken from me. Though it was a long and slow process, she did survive and we grew even closer together. In her own words, the three months that she spent in the hospital were a “deeply sacred time for me.” She never shared all the details, only to say that she and her Father in Heaven had become even closer. She was told that God needed her to be “the happiest person on the planet,” and she tried to reflect that. Those in the hospital were always drawn to her, often asking to be assigned to her, or even coming in on their off-hours just to visit her. One physical therapist said “If we could capture and bottle your wife’s enthusiasm, we could make a fortune.”
Her recovery over the last three years has been slow and sometimes painful. But she endured it well, and rarely complained. In addition to doing most of the domestic chores around the house, I have needed to help her with basic chores such as putting on her shoes. Some have said I was a saint to have done this, but I was the one who was blessed. These simple acts of service brought us closer together, and helped us love and appreciate each other even more. We still looked forward to the big events, such as vacations and cruises, but we also enjoyed just having a quiet day at home together. Just sitting together on the love seat, watching Jeopardy, and holding hands was a real treat. As Kathy was fond of saying, “It’s just you, me, and Alex Trebek.”
Since that first hospitalization, my prayers have always included gratitude for her life, a plea for her continued recovery, and a request that we might have many more years together. Despite my pleadings, I always wondered if her return to me might be for just a short season, and I suppose that it was. But I am so grateful to have had those extra three years, and cherished each and every day.
Third, I am so grateful that Kathy has been freed from the pains and physical ailments that afflicted her for most of her life. She was always self-conscious about her looks and her weight, and this was not helped by the occasional moron who would say extremely rude things to her. While at BYU, two different guys told her on the same week that she was so smart and witty that they would propose immediately if she were just a little thinner and a little prettier. (This type of attitude is one of the reasons I had no desire to attend BYU.) Having seen pictures of her during those days, it’s incomprehensible to me that anyone could say such things about such a gorgeous woman. But I count this as a blessing, because otherwise she probably would have been married long before I met her.
A friend who visited recently shared details about a dream she had twice over the past month. In this dream she saw Kathy in her heavenly form, and was astounded by her beauty. Kathy was singing and dancing around, and having a wonderful time. Kathy was never afraid of death, and looked forward to it as her next great adventure. I hope that it has met or exceeded her expectations, and that she is excited about her new assignments. I’m anxiously awaiting a postcard from her, but have not seen one yet.
Another former ward member shared the following in an email:
On Tuesday morning, I was riding my motorcycle to work. It was cool, but the sun was shining on a calm ocean and the waves were stunningly beautiful. I had just found out about Kathy’s passing 15 minutes earlier from a text message.
I was lost in my thoughts, concerned about you, since you and Kathy did everything together. As I was going past Sunset Beach, Kathy started talking to me. She said, “Jeff don’t be sad for me, I am free!” At that moment, I knew she was happy! So, again she was teaching me.
I began to start thinking about how much faster Kathy will be able to get around and continue to serve others in her unique and effective ways.
Okay, was Kathy actually riding on the back of my motorcycle? I like to think she was.
During this season, we celebrate the birth, life, and mission of our Savior Jesus Christ. This is the final and most important thing for which I am grateful this day. As we sang earlier today:
He lives, my one sure rock of faith,
The one bright hope of men on earth,
The beacon to a better way,
The light beyond the veil of death.
If we build and exercise faith in Christ, He will become our beacon to a better way. His marvelous atonement is our bright hope in a dark world, and assures us that we will find light and love beyond the veil of death. If it were not for this wonderful gift, our entire existence would be meaningless.
Let me close by sharing just one more story about our sweet Kathy. If you looked on the memory table outside, you might have seen one of her journals. Back in May of last year, she decided that she would gain more from her daily scripture study if she wrote the scriptures out by hand. So she bought several journals, and would read and transcribe one chapter of the Book of Mormon each day. So when she was finished, she would have a complete copy of the book written in her hand. She filled several journals, went through several pens, and finally made it to 3rd Nephi, Chapter 19. (That’s about 84% through the book.)
When she started doing this, I would occasionally hear her shout “Bingo!” When I asked why, she said it was because she had found a chapter that contained all the letters “X,” “Q,” “J,” and “Z,” and she would note that with an asterisk next to the chapter number in her journal.
Why was this significant? Kathy loved words, and she loved playing Scrabble, and those four letters are the highest scoring letters in Scrabble. Finding one chapter that contained all of them was a great event. This is just one of many quirky stories that made every day an adventure with Kathy.
Also, please take time to read the little story that is on the inside cover of your program. This is the last portion of the last blog that Kathy ever wrote. She lived her life around the written word, but I suspect she did not know when writing this that it would be her final written testimony in this life. Yet she seems to have come up with the perfect ending to a blog well written and to a life well lived.
Until we meet again, my sweet princess, the love of my life, the Queen of my Universe. You will continue to inspire me each day to be the best that I can be, so we may resume our glorious journey together after a brief separation.
In the name of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Memories of Kathy
Thanks for reading through this and being part of Planet Kathy.