She lay slumped over the bed where she had fallen as she finished putting the new Sunbonnet Sue/Suspender Sam quilt neatly across the bed. "Done! Done! Done!" she said as she lay flat as the quilt.

"It looks done," I said. I stood there moments after I heard her body hitting the mattress.

"Do you like it," she asked, her face still pressed against Sunbonnet Sue's bonnet on the square where her head lay. Her body covered many of the other Sues and Sams.

"The part that I can see," I said.

"Help me up then," she said as she stretched up her arm where I could grab her hand. I pulled. She pushed herself up toward me. Then she was free. "So, how is it?" We soon stood side by side at the end of the bed.

"Is it absolutely finished?" I asked. I was very careful with my question. Several times during the making of the quilt she had spread it out over the bed unfinished. Each time I thought it was completed and said nice things, she clenched her fists and swung at me.

"It's not finished yet," she had said each time.

Now she just looked at the quilt. "It's finished now. Every bit."

"You're sure?" I asked carefully.

"I'm sure."

"You like it exactly the way it is?"

"What are you asking?"

"I just want to be sure. Every time before when you said you were almost finished, you complained something wasn't right or you changed your mind about which direction you wanted the squares to face, with the figures facing toward each other or facing away from each other. Then you worried about the fabric for the sashing, which colors worked best, which design with which appliqué. Then you spent a long time squinching up your forehead as you decided how to do the binding this time. So I want to be sure you're sure that it's exactly the way you wanted it." Whew!

"It looks good, doesn't it?" she asked. She patted her hand down over several of the blocks, smoothing the fabric.

"It looks great," I said. "What do you think?"

"Do you think I should do some stippling around the figures?"

"I thought you said it was absolutely done."

"It is. Absolutely. I was just wondering...."

"How about if I stipple your head," I said, but she wasn't frightened by my threat.

"It does look all right, doesn't it."

"Perfect," I said. I had long before learned not to question one thread, one square, one sashing, one border, one binding.

She patted the quilt again, this time a bit more lovingly, each touch a caress. Her fingertips brushed one Sue then another, one Sam then another. "It's not absolutely perfect. I could have...."

"Shhh," I interrupted. It's magnificent."

"Now you're saying it's not perfect."

"What? I just said it was perfect."

"You know it's not perfect. It has some things that could have been done differently. I could have changed something one way or the other."

"What do you think you want to change?"

"Nothing. I like it." She was smiling.

"I like it, too."

"Just don't look too closely at it," she said. Her hands were still busy on the quilt, flicking off imaginary lint, picking at a few leftover threads that clung to some of the squares.

"It looks good from where I'm standing."

"You're sure?"

"Do you doubt the word of your absolutely Darling Husband?" I feigned hurt. She wasn't taken in.

"Well, anything bad you might say doesn't count."

"I didn't say anything bad. I'm not saying anything bad." Help!

"You know, if you look at it the wrong way, you might find it's not absolutely the way people might think it should be, but that's all right. It has its own personality."

"A fine personality," I said. The hands that quilted that quilt were strong and I didn't want to provoke them to violence.

"You know how some people aren't beautiful or handsome?"

"Many people," I said.

"But they have something better," she said.

"Personality?" I guessed.

"Character," she said.

"That can be better than beautiful or handsome or even attractive," I agreed.

"My quilt has character, doesn't it."

Character? I hadn't thought about character. I looked at the quilt more closely. I looked up the rows and down the rows and across the quilt from right to left. I looked at Sunbonnet Sue and Suspender Sam. I looked at the colors of the fabric in each square. And as I looked, as I examined, as I took in the whole quilt she had worked to complete with all her passion, I saw it. I saw the quilt as it really was. "Character. Yes, it certainly has character." I said to her. "Splendid character."

"That's what I think," she said, and she leaned over the bed and fell down on the quilt with a thump and turned and spread our her arms and legs and gave her quilt one big hug.

"I'd rather hug the quilt maker," I said, and I thumped myself down next to her. "How about me? Don't I have character, too?"

"Yes, Dear, you certainly do. But don't wrinkle the quilt."

Click here to see Susie and Sam Quilt

Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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