Letters to Kathy
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“Letters to Kathy,” New Era, Sept. 1984, 32


Letters to Kathy

Brian wasn’t a letter writer. He didn’t have the interest, the skill, or the time. He didn’t even have the pen and paper. Then one night Dad summoned Brian to the study.

The week after Brian’s sister Kathy went off to BYU to begin her freshman year, he was summoned to Dad’s study.

“I want you to write to Kathy once a month,” Dad said in his no-nonsense voice.

Brian, who never wrote anything to anybody if he could help it, was horrified. “Why?”

“For three very good reasons,” Dad said. “First, if you write to your sister now, she just might communicate with you when you’re on your mission, and letters are very welcome to missionaries. Second, I would like you children to keep in touch with each other after you leave home. And third, writing letters might improve your English skills.”

“But, Dad—”

“No buts. You can start now.” Dad handed Brian a pen, a sheet of paper, and an envelope. “I assume it won’t be necessary to check the letter before you mail it to make sure that you’ve actually written something?”

Brian, realizing he had no choice in the matter, shook his head. “But what can I write about?”


Brian walked down the hall to his bedroom, grumbling inwardly all the way, and sat down at his desk. He had never enjoyed writing. Mom had to bribe him to write thank-you notes for birthday and Christmas presents. And now to have to write to Kathy, of all people! Brian didn’t think it possible that Kathy would be at all interested in anything he had to say. But when Dad made up his mind that something would be done, there was no getting around it. Brian sighed and thought about school.

“Dear Kathy,

“I don’t know how they worked homerooms when you were in high school, but this year homeroom period is between 1st and 2nd periods for ten minutes. I guess they figure that the tardy kids will be at school by then and the attendance will look good. Last Thursday I went from algebra (1st period) to English (2nd period) without thinking of homeroom at all. Suddenly I noticed that the halls were really quiet, and when I looked into my English room I saw all these strangers. “Homeroom!” I yelled and ran all the way to mine—on the other side of the building, of course. I got there just after the bell rang. Miss Holik said “Tardy,” and everyone snickered. I had to bring an excuse from Mom. How stupid can you get?”

Brian stopped writing and wondered how to end the letter. “Love, Brian” was too sissy. “Sincerely yours” was too formal. Finally he just wrote “Brian.” Brian folded the letter and put it into the envelope, which Dad had already addressed and stamped. He took it back to the study.

“Well, now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” said Dad.

Brian said nothing. He was calculating the number of months left before Kathy graduated from college and wondering how he could possibly think of things to fill up that many letters.

In October Brian conveniently forgot about Kathy’s letter until Dad reminded him by handing him paper and an envelope. “But Kathy never wrote back!” he protested.

“That makes no difference,” said Dad.

“But what can I write about?” groaned Brian.


“Dear Kathy,

“The Miners next door went to Hawaii two weeks ago. Paul said the weather was gorgeous. He got a neat tan. It rained here all the time they were gone, and he’s really rubbing it in. For the last week all everyone has heard on the school bus is Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaii and how wonderful it was and how great Paul’s father is for making so much money that he can take his family places like that. It’s enough to make you sick.”

In November Brian thought that he might as well get the letter writing over as soon as possible and went to the study to get his supplies early in the month. Dad was pleasantly surprised.

“You seem to be taking to this,” he commented.

“I just want to get it out of the way,” said Brian.

“What can I write about this month?”


“Dear Kathy,

“We had the road shows last week. I wasn’t going to be in ours, but Sister Fiedler talked to Mom and she made me. We did the story of David and Goliath set in the Wild West. Howard Brighty was Goliath, and you know how tall he is, and Keith Wertz was David, and you know how short he is. Keith had all these fake guns hanging on his belt, and in the middle of the road show they fell off. It looked good, even though it wasn’t supposed to happen. I was an Israelite cowboy. I had to square dance with Debbie Vandercook. We didn’t win any awards, but it was OK.”

In December Brian was excused from letter writing since Kathy was home for most of the month on vacation. She said nothing to him about his letters and Brian felt that the whole project was worthless. In January, though, it began again.

“What can I write about now?” moaned Brian.

“The weather.”

“Dear Kathy,

“If someone took a movie of what it looks like outside and showed it to someone else and said, ‘What month is this?’ they would probably say March. It’s been rainy and warm and slushy, just like March. The Scout skiing trip and the Ski Club trip (high school) had to be canceled. In March it will probably be cold and snowy like January is supposed to be. It’s disgusting.”

Two weeks later when Brian came home from school, Mom met him at the door.

“You got a letter,” she said.

“A letter?” said Brian. It wasn’t his birthday, and that was the only time he got letters. “Who from?”

“Kathy,” said Mom, handing it to him.

Brian took the letter into his bedroom to read. It felt very strange to get a letter from Kathy. Probably telling me she thinks my letters stink, he thought. He somewhat reluctantly opened it.

“Dear Brian,

“I must admit I was surprised when you started writing me letters, but I want you to know that I really enjoy getting them. They’re always fun to read, and they often bring back happy memories. In addition, they always seem to come at a time when I’m feeling a little homesick or depressed, and they really cheer me up. Keep up the good work!

“Love, Kathy”

Brian sat back in his chair with a feeling of total amazement. I guess I am doing something worthwhile after all, he thought. Kathy likes my letters! She likes my letters!

Brian carefully put Kathy’s letter back into its envelope and then rummaged around in his closet until he found an old shoe box. After dusting it off, he wrote “LETTERS” on the top and put Kathy’s letter inside. Then Brian headed down the hall to the study for his writing supplies. There was no harm in getting Kathy’s February letter done a little early. Perhaps, if he didn’t run out of things to say, he could even write to Grandma.

Art by Bryan Lee Shaw

Photos by Michael McConkie