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Finding Purpose and Peace in the Land of the Great Manhunt

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

By Kathy Day

As I opened the door to my apartment, I heard the cheerful voice of my sister, Jean call out, “Are you going to the Thanksgiving dinner at the church tonight?” “No way!” I thought. I didn’t want to be rude so I responded, “Can’t. It’s funded by the congregational budget and I haven’t paid mine.” Jean countered, “No problem, I’ll pay the $5 so you can go.” Trapped. I really didn’t want to attend an event filled with coeds who thought I was a failure. I was beginning my first year of graduate school at Brigham Young University without first attaining the highly sought MRS degree. Just what was an MRS degree? It was a much-coveted degree for many co-eds on the campus of Brigham Young University. They were earnestly looking under every bush, and into every nook and cranny for the man of their dreams. One who was extremely handsome and a spiritual giant. One who would quickly marry them in the nearest temple so they could become MRS. Super Wife.

Unlike many of my female peers, my main goal in entering BYU’s hallowed halls was to obtain an advanced degree. I did hope to someday meet my knight in shining armor and have a family, but I did not plan to sacrifice my academic goals to do so. Besides, I was a dismal failure at the dating game. All my life I had been in circles that were filled mostly by males. I was a tomboy and my goal as a young child was to grow up to be a cowboy. I spent many a first-grade recess sitting on the school’s front steps for violating the rule that said girls weren’t allowed to play with boys. Such a dumb rule. Girl’s played boring stuff like house and boys got to play on the teeter totters, slides, and swings. I played a low brass instrument in band and was the only girl to do so. I was just one of the group as far as the boys were concerned. When it came time to date, being part of the gang was problematic. It seems the dense male brain didn’t notice I was more than just one of them, I was a girl. They never made the mental jump from: she might be more than someone to just pal around with, maybe I could ask her out.

So, on the day I was cheerfully assaulted by my sister about attending the Thanksgiving dinner, I had no desire to go to an event where I would feel like the fifth wheel on a wagon. Yet, due to my generous sister’s offer I was stuck going where I could watch the great manhunt literally materialize before my eyes.

When my roommates and I arrived at the dinner, Jean and I sat across the table from our roommate, Charlotte’s boyfriend, Chip. Chip’s roommate, Tony was sitting directly across from my sister and I. Tony had a big smile that lit up his whole being. He was funny and entertaining. I found myself instantly connecting with him. Yet since I felt inadequate in the art of courting, I figured Tony was not interested in me but was flirting with my charming sister.

After the meal, Tony invited my roommates and I to watch “Starsky and Hutch” at his apartment with his roommates and him. We accepted the invitation and had a fun evening. When it was time to leave, Tony looked at us and announced that “War and Peace” was showing at the Varsity Theater on campus the next day and asked if anyone was interested in going. “Of, course he isn’t directing that comment at me,” I thought. “I’m sure it is directed at my beautiful and captivating sister, Jean.” I decided to graciously decline his offer with the excuse that I planned to work on a term paper that evening. Tony looked at me and said, “Probably a good idea, the movie is long and sometimes boring.”

The next day shortly after the sun rose in the bright blue skies over head, Chip knocked on the door of my apartment. After Charlotte let him in, he spotted me sitting on the sofa, starred at me intently and with a tone of exasperation said, “You blew it!” Blew what? I thought. Chip firmly continued,” Didn’t you know that Tony wanted you to go to the movie with him, when he extended the invitation?” Hmmm, how was I to know that remark was specifically meant for me when it was addressed to the whole group? I wasn’t a mind reader after all.

As I pondered on Chip’s outburst, I wondered what I could do to rectify ignorantly rejecting an invitation to spend time with Tony, whom I felt was fascinating and likeable. I had always been shy and awkward in the dating arena. I had never flirted with anyone and wasn’t sure how to go about doing so. Then I remembered that Tony parked his motorcycle underneath the balcony of my apartment. Before I even knew his name was Tony, I had often heard the loud motor of his bike as he roared off into his day’s adventures. All of a sudden, a plan formed in my head. The plan was kind of scary but just might work. I decided to be present every morning when Tony emerged.

The next day as I stood on my balcony, Tony came out holding a bag of trash and walked toward his motorbike. After he deposited his trash in a nearby trash receptacle, and mounted his bike, I took a deep breath, gathered my courage and shouted down at him: “Good morning, Trash Man!” He smiled up at me and responded, “Good morning!” and then thundered off into the sunrise.

Over the next few weeks, I greeted the Trash Man and he returned my greetings. One evening as I sat in my room, the phone rang. When I answered it, the voice on the other end cheerfully announced: “This is the Trash Man, would you like to go with me to a play at the DeJonge Concert Hall?” Boy would I!

The Trash Man called to invite me to plays, concerts, and out to dinner. It was like I had known him all my life. We joked, shared ideas and had fun together easily. I remember thinking that it was supposed to only be in fairy tales that love happened at first sight, but in our case that is what transpired.

Over the course of the next few months, Tony and I knew we were soul mates. Yet we did not want to follow the BYU tradition of meeting and marrying in a mere few months. Both of us desired to complete our studies first.

We dated for about a year and a half. We shopped for groceries and cooked together. We shared our life long dreams with each other. We both agreed that we had always wanted to have a temple marriage and an eternal family. Tony told me how much he loved the temple and wanted to take me there some day.

Usually, when you agree to marry there is some earth-shattering event like the future groom nervously getting down on one knee, ring in hand declaring his undying love and asking for the prospective bride to marry him. In our case there was never a formal marriage proposal. Tony and I had gone to visit my family in Colorado. As we were driving back to BYU, we were discussing my sister Jean and her missionary, Ed. I said I thought after his mission, Jean and Ed would probably marry. Tony looked at me and said: “Maybe we should do that sometime.” I agreed.

We spent our last semester at BYU studying, and organizing a wedding. On April 22, 1977 Tony received his BS in chemistry and I was awarded my Masters of Public Administration.

On April 23, 1977 we traveled to the Manti Utah Temple and were sealed for time and all eternity.. I know God had a hand in getting two people together who were unskilled when it came to dating. Tony and I had 30 wonderful years together. We were each other’s best friends. God blessed us with five beautiful children, three boys and two girls. He also blessed us with three beautiful granddaughters and four handsome grandsons. Over the years we had many opportunities to serve the Lord in church, the community, and in our family. We did nearly everything together. Tony died unexpectedly in 2007. I miss him terribly, but am grateful to know that because of promises made in the temple, I will see him again and we will be together as a forever family.

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