The Knife - A Story by R. Conrad Teichert
The Knife: A story by R. Conrad Teichert
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What is "The Knife?"

By Kimberly Teichert Parker

Each Christmas Eve, my father, Robert Conrad Teichert (a grandson of prolific LDS artist Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert), would recite to our family a Christmas memory from his childhood which we lovingly referred to as “the story of Bimbo.” Dad, a screenplay writer who won 1st place for his historical screenplay at Worldfest Houston Film Festival, knew how to tell as story. He also had the voice to tell it with. He had been a sportscaster on Channel 4 in Utah, was a radio and TV news reporter for KSL, had been the news anchorman on Channel 6 KIVI in Boise, Idaho, and was the voice of Intermountain Farmers Association. The highlight of the Christmas Season was listening to Dad’s resonant voice tell this remembrance of his childhood.

In late summer of 1999, I approached Dad with a request. The only thing I wanted for Christmas that year was for him to write the story of Bimbo down. For the next several months, he laboriously worked to put onto paper his precious Christmas memory. Christmas Day came, and I opened a package containing Bimbo’s story on 16 pages under a new title, “The Knife.” Enclosed was a CD of Dad reading his story to me and to all his future posterity. As I opened the booklet, the inside cover read, “To my daughter, Kimberly, who will now illustrate this little story.”

I laughed. I was only an interior design student at BYU with very limited art training, and a huge fear of ever being compared to my great-grandmother’s talent. At the time, I dismissed that “commission” without a second thought. But the next Spring, in April of 2000, Dad was diagnosed with melanoma. After surgery and receiving a clean bill of health, everyone thought Dad was fine. Everyone, but probably himself and me. I started thinking very serously about his request to me. My husband and I had moved to Houston, Texas, so Dad and I talked a bit over the phone about possible illustrations. I decided to work in charcoal, the medium I felt most comfortable with. After several pathetic tries in black and white, I literally gave up feeling failure in my abilities to illustrate the words that moved me to tears each Christmas.

In August, Dad found a lump, and our fears were confirmed. The cancer was back and had spread mercilessly to his brain. A feeling of urgency enveloped me and I felt compelled to struggle once more with those illustrations. This time, I knew it was supposed to be in color. I felt it was a race against time, and with a prayer in my heart, I labored intensely out of love for my dying father. I had intended to give them to him for Christmas, but he didn’t make it. He passed away November 9, 2000. I continued to work on the illustrations after his death, and gave them symbolically to Dad the following Christmas 2001.

Though the illustrations were complete, I felt the project was still unfinished. In May 2003, I felt an impression that perhaps Roger Hoffman, a good friend of Dad’s, could write some music as an introduction to the story. After meeting with Roger, he seemed eager to help, but discouraged that writing new music might not be possible since I didn’t have the funds to pay him and his schedule was tight. He stopped suddenly and said, “But maybe the music is already written.”

It was Christmas of 1999 that Dad asked Roger to arrange or compose 6 Christmas songs for a CD of Christmas music for clients of the company Dad worked for. They could listen and enjoy Roger, Melanie, and Matt Hoffman’s arrangements with a personalized recorded message from the president of the company. That was the start of the Hoffman Christmas CD that they worked on all of 2000 and dedicated to Dad. They visited Dad when he was in bed in October 2000, telling him that their new CD was coming out for Christmas 2000. When Mom called the Hoffman’s to say that Dad had passed away, Melanie cried out, “But we wanted to show it to him.” Roger answered that Conrad was very aware of it.
And so, in May of 2003, Roger thought that maybe some of the music from that Christmas CD might fit well and be mixed to play as background music throughout the entire story. Roger enlisted the help of his oldest son, Nathan Hoffman, who completed the project. As we listened to the mix, it sounded like the music had been written specifically for the story, and even the Hoffmans had been surprised by how the two seemed to fit together.
In October 2006, with limited computer skills, I managed to put together a DVD of “The Knife” to enable people to experience the story by watching it. A couple of illustrations were added at that time.

The underlying message of “The Knife” focuses on our Savior, Jesus Christ. At the time of Dad’s death, one particular painting of my great-grandmother’s became particularly poignant and important to me. It was a painting entitled “Christ in the Red Robe” depicting the Savior at his second coming clothed in a red robe, a symbol of his Atoning Sacrifice. The painting hung next to my parents bed and was a constant reminder of the promises enabled by the Father’s Gift of His Son — redemption, resurrection, understanding, compassion, mercy, and our neccessity to trust Him. As I put the DVD together, it seemed fitting to set my Dad’s closing words — his testimony of the Savior — to his grandmother’s painting of Him who has made eternal life possible.

“The Knife” is a message of hope. Hope that we will be accepting of our Savior and His Gift to us; that our actions might be consistent with our knowledge and acceptance of Him. Since Dad wrote “The Knife” in 1999, literally hundreds of people have either heard it or have heard of it, and it’s influence has been profound. Each year we receive inquiries as to its possible publication. Technology has evolved to enable us to share “The Knife” with a wide audience via the internet, and it is our desire to allow “The Knife” to be heard, that it’s influence for hope will continue.

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