Tuesday, July 14, 2009

memories of Kathy

Mostly in private conversation, countless stories about my mother have come out of the woodwork. Whether they are funny, sad, inspiring, or even just plain boring, they bring out new facets of my mother's life and help me to see her in a different light. I would like to start collecting them for posterity. I want my children to know not only the Kathy that I knew, but also the Kathy that is revealed in these countless quiet interactions with people outside of the immediate family. I realize that this may not be the ideal place to share some of these memories, but if you have such a memory, please consider sharing it. If you'd rather share it with me in private, please feel free to email me at danielkentwood@gmail.com

Here is something I gave to my mom on her birthday two years ago. It isn't necessarily a memory about her, but it is, as Robert Frost put it, the result of a "lump in the throat" and a homesickness while thinking about her. I had forgotten about it, but I came across it yesterday and thought it might resonate with some of the readers of this blog. I use the image of a tree to describe my mother's deft balance of relentless curiosity and innocence. She was both wise and pure; both liberal in her interests and focused in her commitments. I have always admired this about her.

May 26, 2007

She is a strong tree,
Happily, knowingly, restingly bearing
A nesting of trees within trees
She musically resonates
A perfectly disturbed pond-nova
Of white pulp and fiber,
A cross-section history of selves in alignment.
Always growing over what scars
May be born of a constant movement
In order to stay still

She has stood in her own grove,
When the wind seeking her genuflection
With violence to bring her head low,
She first bends her will and head
Lowly with love,
Leaves and branches whistling musically.

As music is both the notes and the cathedral,
She equally listens, reflects, and sings:
Her life is an arabesque
Of shaping without hands,
A delicacy of intervention and trust
Both load-bearing and free-standing

I have to smile with pride—
Half the life of a tree
And she, precociously bearing far more rings
Than years.
She knows that we are, most of all,
Our very last ring
And she knows that the last ring
Is also the youngest.
She refuses to believe that knowledge kills.

Somewhere along the way,
She learned, as promised,
That the tree of life
Really can be grafted
Into the tree of knowledge,
But her accomplishment is something other:
She’s happily, knowingly, and restingly bearing
The operation.


  1. Kathy has the most beautiful voice. I could listen to her forever. But even more, she shared what she knew about singing. I was so blessed to be able to sing in her small choir for the Temple Dedication. She is a wonderful director. I loved singing with her as the director! She lifted me when she didn't realize that she was doing it. What a wonderful woman. I cannot think of ever seeing her without a smile on her face.
    She is an amazing person. I wish to be worthy of her association!
    Mary Bair

  2. I knew Kathy when we were both in Primary. She was two years older than I, so what I knew was mostly just observation. She had a sense of who she was, a daughter of God, even as an 11 year old. I never heard her speak a single unkind word toward anyone, even when those around her did. She was one of the people I wanted to be like, when I was a young girl.
    We moved away, but I occasionally saw Kathy or heard her sing at Stake functions. She was always first class, always polished. I don't know that I ever even exchanged words with her, but I watched her over the years that I lived in the Modesto North Stake, and I thought of her example even when I moved away.
    When I heard of her passing, I shared my oberservations of Kathy with the Young Women of my ward in Utah. The Church theme for the YM and YW this year is, "Be an example of the Believers". I used Kathy to illustrate the theme. She was an example to me, yet she never knew it. That is the best kind of example- she was good, just because she simply was good. We never know who is watching us, or for how long, but our example and influence can make a difference in the lives of others.
    I am grateful for Kathy's example in my life. I am saddened that there is one less good woman in the world, but her influence remains.
    Years ago, the daughter of a friend of mine received a blessing from Elder Dallin H. Oaks. She was dying with breast cancer and was concerned about her young children. In the blessing, Elder Oaks told her that her influence on her family would be just as great from the other side of the veil. That has been a great comfort to me, and I pass it along as a comfort to all of you.
    Julie Nash Reeves

  3. My love for Kathy was planted deep in my heart during the years I associated with her in the Antioch 1st Ward. I've always felt privileged to know her and absolutely loved spending time with her during my voice lessons. I always left feeling better about myself, even if I hadn't had a 'good voice day.' Kathy always saw the good in others and always had a creative and loving approach to any problem. She was patient with my children, and they have expressed even now remembering what a good person Kathy was because she always treated them with love and respect - even when they were naughty! The key word here is always. I can't remember a time when I was ever disappointed with the way she handled a situation. There were certainly many opportunities.

    I remember once when the luncheon rotation for our book club was scheduled for her home, so she was to provide the luncheon, and it happened to fall during the period when she had bravely informed her family that they were going to eat all of their meals using only their food storage for two weeks. Well, she stuck to her commitment even though it was late into the second week and there wasn't any fresh produce left in the house. She prepared a delicious luncheon of homemade chicken-pot-pie and creative canned fruit salad. I have thought about this many times over the years and marveled at how she didn't make any exceptions even when she had to prepare a sumptuous luncheon for a group of 'educated' women. I think we all learned more from Kathy's luncheon than we did from whatever book was reviewed that month.

    I can think of so many instances when Kathy impressed me with her ingenuity, kindness, humor, talent and compassion. She truly was a strong tree whose branches continue to reach further and teach more than any of us can possibly know. Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your poem. I write poetry also, so I really appreciated your thoughts about your mother put forth in poetry. It has a power almost like music in helping us to see things that regular prose can never express.

    Kim Parscal

  4. I first met Kathy at our Napa ranch. We were about 14 years old. Our parents Pat and Bud Stone and Doug and Martha Leigh Haynes were friends. I remember Mom telling me the Stones were coming to spend the day at the ranch with us. As most young teenagers would be, I was apprehensive about spending the day with a total stranger. But within minutes together we were like old friends- getting along famously. We were both sad when the day was over. Kathy was so much fun that day and so nice! Not forgotten a few years later we met again at a multi-regional youth conference in Sacramento. She was brave enough to get up in front of all those people and bear her testimony. I still remember one thing she said all these years later. Her face turned into a huge grin as she said she had the best young women's president in the church. She felt so lucky! Then she leaned into the microphone and in a hilarious hushed voice she laughed, "It's my mom." My parents are also friends with the Woods- my mom-Martha Leigh is first cousins with Rochelle Hilton and Rene Harbertsen. I've thought of Kathy throughout the years and wanted to be like her- a leader and friend to many. I knew that about her even at 14. Her children are so lucky they got her as a mom- even if for a shortened time.
    Robin Haynes Bloomfield

  5. Kathy formed the W.A.I.T. (Wise Abstinent Informed Teens) group in the early 90s. I had the great fortune of participating in the first couple of years. The purpose of WAIT was to provide an opportunity for young adults (high school students) to stand before their peers and talk honestly and openly about the benefits of abstinence from sexual relations prior to and complete spousal fidelity after marriage.

    I was always so impressed that Kathy felt strongly enough about this that she not only was willing to talk about it... but willing to truly fight for it. Year after year, she sat in front of school boards and city officials to beg and plead with them to allow this crucial message to be shared with a generation that so desperately needed it.

    Even as a teenager, I was aware of her devotion as evidenced by the massive hours she poured into creating skits, developing role play situations, gathering reputable statistics, etc. It was readily apparent that she really cared about her family, her neighborhood and her community. To witness her stand in front of endless groups of strangers (classes) and share how wonderful her relationship was with her husband as a direct consequence of their commitment was (is) truly a great strength to me.

    As the years went by, I would bump into Kathy from time to time (mostly at stake meetings) and we'd talk about how things were going in regard to WAIT. I was amazed at how long she was able to keep this program running... and especially amazed at how she could inspire so many young adults to bravely stand at her side in a situation that most adults hide from (to say nothing of the typical teenager reaction).

    As many others have shared, Kathy is an incredible example of the believers. She isn't just righteous, she is fearless and unashamed in her pursuit of it!

    I am convinced it simply isn't possible to associate with Kathy and not be inspired to become a better person.

    While I, among many others, will miss her association in this life, I can only imagine what a profound and positive impact she is making on those with whom she now associates.

    I look forward to the opportunity to resume my association with her again; in the meantime... I'll do my best to live up to the beautiful and bold example she lovingly provided to us all.

    John Stockett

  6. I knew Kathy as a child, before I was a member of the church. I met her when her family first returned from Argentina. Even at that young age I remember that there was something bright abd light about her that I felt drawn to. The last time I saw her was in 8th grade. We then went to separate high schools (she to Downey and I to Davis) and had no further contact until recently. Around June 1st of this year, we made contact through Facebook. She noticed that I was in a family history group and later told me she thought that would be a good opening for her to share the gospel with me. She was absolutely thrilled to hear that I had already joined the church in 1978, had been sealed to my husband, both of my sons had served missions, and my son that is married was married in the Redlands California Temple. We had made arrangements to go through a session at the Sacramento Temple together and then to catch up over dinner afterwards on June 25th. That meeting never took place, of course. But I am so grateful for the emails that we exchanged over that short period. Her light is shining brighter than ever. I want her grandchildren, and generations beyond to know that they need look no further for an example of rightenousness and gspel living than their grandmother, Kathy Stone Wood. For me as a nonmember she was a wonderful example of someone who let her light "so shine" just by the righteous life that she led. I now know that that light was the Gift of the Holy Ghost that she carried with her always and it shone clear and bright because of the life that she lived. She is a great example to her posterity of how even a child can "be an example of the believers" and the good that the righteous example of a child can do. I am so grateful to have known her and that, for a short period of time, we regained contact. I look forward to "catching up" once I am on the other side of the veil.

  7. You don't know me but I went to high school with your mother. She was the most beautiful person inside and out. She was always wonderful to everyone and treated everyone as if they really mattered to her. When you saw Kathy, she would give that quick beautiful smile and hello. I don't think she ever met a stranger and she will be missed. I am glad to hear that your father is doing much better and know that you are all in my prayers. Take care and God bless and keep you all.

    Debbie Reza Henderson

  8. I was fortunate to have your mother as my visiting teacher soon after moving to Folsom in 2004. Though I have not known her as long as others, her sweet influence is something I will never forget. She always made me feel at ease and I felt like she was my friend right from the start. She always took the time to to let me feel her love and concern. Whenever I came to church and would see her she would always stop and greet with her beautiful smile and take time to ask how everything was. Often she would ride her bike over to my home for visits and I would smile to see how fit and energetic she was.

    We had a tradition of several of us sisters going out to lunch for each others birthdays and most often your Mom would come. We had so much fun together and shared each others joys and struggles. These times were very important to all of us because it gave us strength individually as we shared our experiences. Your mom was special, very special, all that knew her knew that. I feel a deep gratitude for knowing her even if it were only for a few years. Her example of spirituality, deep understanding of life and the gospel, her compassion and friendship has been a powerful influence in my life and will continue to be.

    With much love and gratitude and prayers,
    Jeri Milici Mork
    Folsom, CA july, 2009