“Kim’s Father,” Friend, June 1986, 2
Kim wanted to write that she and her father went to the library and discussed the books that they chose. She wanted to write that no matter how busy he was, her father always stopped to answer her questions, that he always kissed her good night and gave her a big hug.
Instead, Kim wrote the truth. She put down sentence after sentence about how lovingly her father cared for his crops, how his tenderness brought calves into the world, how often he had saved kittens from starvation. She told how he had grieved when disease took half the chickens and a hailstorm destroyed most of the oats. She didn’t write about how she hoped that someday she would know that he loved her too.
Kim and her father made a lovely couple the night of the Daddy-Daughter dinner. Kim wore her favorite orange dress with the lace trim, and her father looked ruggedly handsome in his brown suit.
During the dinner Kim’s father leaned toward her. “Pretty good supper. Not nearly as good as Mother makes, but pretty good.”
As they finished their orange sherbet, the Primary president stood to announce that Kim would now give a talk about her father. Kim’s heart fluttered as she spoke into the microphone.
When she had finished, the Primary president introduced Kim’s father and invited him to speak.
“I’m not used to talking much,” Kim’s father began, “except to my cows. But I would like to say that I’m proud of my daughter. I don’t tell her that often, though. You see, I was raised in a very strict home. My mother died when I was younger than Kim, and though my father was a wonderful man, he believed that showing affection made you weak. I don’t remember that he ever hugged me in his life. I guess that’s why I feel awkward about showing affection to Kim. But I’d like to tell a little story that I hope will show that I do love her.
“Kim was born in the dead of winter, and she caught pneumonia when she was only two months old. I tried to do the household chores because her mother had to care for her constantly. One night it was particularly hard for her to breathe. I took my little girl in my arms and blessed her and prayed for her … as hard as I’ve ever prayed for anything. Then, because her mother was totally exhausted, I sat in the rocker next to the stove and put my baby on her stomach across my lap and rocked her all that night. The doctor came the next morning and said that my rocking her in that position had given Kim’s little lungs a good night’s rest and that he thought that she was going to pull through. So you see, my little girl is very special to me—she always has been, and she always will be.”
Kim’s eyes were full of tears. She wondered why she had never heard about that night before. Running to her father, she hugged him long and hard. When he put his arms around her and hugged her back, Kim felt that her heart was about to burst with joy.