The Eyes Have It




She had just come in from the garden and was looking for the Kleenex. I was already holding a box and I handed it to her. She sneezed and used a tissue. Then I sneezed and she handed the box back to me. It was the first day of spring, and the war between us and the flowers and grasses and trees was beginning again. Our allergies kicked in and we tried to kick back, but it was a losing battle. I hoped only that the family-sized boxes of tissue would keep last us through the worst of it.

What was worse for her was that her sneezing and itchy eyes were interrupting her quilting. To finish her last quilt she had to stay in the house for three days in a row so she would be able to see what she was doing as she quilted. The quilt finished, she ventured outside, but it was not for long. She wiped at her eyes, took the box of Kleenex with her, and went to lie down. .

"Achooo, Yes," I heard a few minutes later, her sneeze reverberating throughout the house. The sneeze I expected, but for her to celebrate it with a loud, 'Yes,' I wasn't sure about. I went to see her.

"You all right?" I asked. I had already found my own box of Kleenex and was rubbing my eyes. I vowed to stay inside for the rest of the day.

"I just discovered something," she said.

"You made a 'Yes' discovery?" I asked. A "Yes" discovery was different than her ordinary discoveries. A "Yes" discovery had to do with quilting. Yes, it did.

"I can make new designs," she said.

"Instead of old designs?"

"What old designs?" she asked.

"You have books of quilt designs, block designs, square designs, postage stamp-sized designs, paper-pieced designs, miniature designs and big block designs," I said. "You even have the new computer CD disks of designs."

"Those are old designs. These are new designs, and they are mine," she said.

"You drew some designs?" I asked. She had only once designed a quilt from scratch, and that, she had said, was more work than she knew how to do even if the quilt came out all right. She was constantly looking for inspiration in her books and magazines. She even had me photograph every quilt we were allowed to at every quilt show.

"I can make my own designs now," she said. "I don't know if I can draw them out on paper or quilt them, but I can make designs for quilts that could be wonderful."

"Go on," I said. I knew she would have much more to say. Give a quilter a word and she'll take a hundred.

"I just don't have the imagination all those really good quilters have. I fall apart when we visit a textile show or a design show or watch a quilter on television explain how to choose colors that complement each other. I have difficulty understanding tones or placement or direction. I have trouble with up and down sometimes."

"You still enjoy quilting," I said. She didn't seem depressed in telling me what she had often told me in her frustration at not being able to have a design work out in reality the way it was in the book or demonstrated at a quilt show.

"I love quilting," she said happily, though her eyes were red and she sniffed a little. I had to be careful as I had learned that quilters can be moody and temperamental and change their basic core personalities from one moment to the next depending on whether their stitch count is correct or their points go together.

"And you discovered....?" I had to lead her gently.

"Colors and designs and patterns and placement, the likes of which have never been found in a quilt."

"So you're going to design a new quilt?"

"No, I don't think so."

"But I thought you discovered...." She stopped me with a sneeze.

"Itchy eyes," she said.

"Me too," I said. I could feel pollen under my eye lids as large as a queen-sized quilt. Now I was thinking like her. But the pollen did feel large.

"Rubbing," she said.

"I don't want to rub my eyes or they'll itch again," I said. She knew that.

"I discovered rubbing," she said.

"Oh," I said. Something was being said here by my Darling Wife that had no similarity to anything my limited brain power could take in.

"Did you ever rub your eyes and see sparkles?"

"What?" I paused in deep thought. "Of course I did." I do.

"And when you look at bright lights or the sun and then look away and you see green and other colors and you hope you're not blind?"

"Yes," I said, wondering if I should go on.

"Well, I was lying there on the bed with my eyes shut and I was rubbing them because they itched as they always itch when we go outside during pollen season, and instead of just being annoyed and wishing for the itching to stop, I looked at what I was seeing."

"You had your eyes closed and you looked at what you were seeing?" (Hey, I said she was a quilter.)

"I took notice. I didn't see, and then I saw."

"Marjorie Daw," I said.


"Never mind, go on."

"I rubbed my eyes and saw colors and stars and sparkles, and then I began to see shapes and patterns and designs. If I squeezed my eyes tight and rubbed them in different ways I could change all the patterns and make designs and soon I was seeing quilt designs, and I didn't ever want to open my eyes again."

"You eyes are open now," I said.

"Because I want to see if I can remember the patterns and designs I saw and draw them out and even fill in the colors with all my marking pens."

"And all that rubbing was a 'Yes' discovery for you?"

"Of course."

"I always see colors and designs and pictures when I close my eyes," I said. "I see people and animals and landscapes and sometimes I see some flashy sparkles, but I don't see designs," I added, wondering if I was deficient in some artistic way.

"That's because you're not a quilter," she said.

"I'm married to a quilter," I said.

"It's not the same." She looked at me holding my box of Kleenex and grabbed it from me. "I feel some itching coming on," she said.

"I'll get you some paper and colored pens to work with," I said. And I did.


Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

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