Why Wasn’t Cathy More Like Me?

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“Why Wasn’t Cathy More Like Me?” Ensign, Jan. 1976, 49

Why Wasn’t Cathy More Like Me?

When I turned eleven, my parents gave me a beautiful edition of a great classic. I read those pages lovingly, and when I turned the last one, I wept. I had lived through them. Carefully, I kept the book for years, waiting to give it to my own daughter. When Cathy was eleven, I presented the book to her. Very pleased with her gift, touched by it, she bravely struggled through the first two chapters and then deposited the book on her shelf, where it remained unopened. And I was deeply disappointed.

For some reason I had always supposed that my daughter would be like me—that she would like to read the same books I read as a girl, have a temperament somewhat similar to mine, like what I liked. The years have passed and I now have four daughters—none of whom are like me at all. I rejoice in this now. I didn’t then.

“Cathy is a charming, bubbling, quick-to-laugh, slightly mischievous girl,” her teachers told me. “Fun to be around,” said her friends. “Excited about life, quick to see humor everywhere, a sensitive soul,” said her father.

“It’s hard for me,” I said to my husband one day. “Her interminable zest for activities, her insatiable desire to ‘play,’ her ever-bubbly laughing and joking are overwhelming to me. I’ve never been like that in my whole life. Reading was the singular joy of my preteen years.”

In my mind I knew I was dead wrong, but deep in those recesses of my heart, I was disappointed. She was somewhat of an enigma to me, and I resented it.

Those unspoken feelings pass quickly and deeply to a child. I knew she would sense them and they would hurt her, if they hadn’t already. I agonized with all my soul that I could be so uncharitable. I knew my disappointment was senseless, but as dearly as I loved this child, it did not change my heart.

Night after night, week after week, when all were sleeping and the house was dark and quiet, I made my way alone to plead before my Father in heaven for understanding. Before him who had known and loved her for eternity, I bowed my head and cried for help.

Then one morning, very early, as I lay in bed, something happened. Later, trying to recall it, I thought perhaps I had been dreaming, but I knew it was no dream. I was awake. Quickly, passing through my mind in just seconds, I saw a picture of Cathy and me as we had been in the spirit world, before we came to this earth—two mature, adult women, arms linked, smiling at each other. A relationship more like sisters. I thought of my own sister and how different we were, and yet I would never have wished that she be like me. I saw Cathy and myself as we will be when we leave this life, mother and daughter, so happy together, dearest friends.

Forcibly the words came to my mind, “How dare you try to impose your personality upon hers? Rejoice in your differences!” Although it lasted but seconds, this flash, this reawakening, changed my heart when nothing else could.

Again renewed was my utter thankfulness, my gratitude. What I had struggled to do and could not seem to bring about myself—a change in heart—He did for me.