To Heck and Back




The door to my Darling Wife's sewing room was barricaded. Chairs were stuffed between the two jambs; her ironing board was pressed up against the chairs. On top of everything were boxes of notions which were draped in fabric. "You'll never get me out of here," she said.

"We're not moving yet," I said, and indeed we weren't. We had two months before the moving van would pull up to the house and carry everything off to the van and start it on its journey 200 miles south to our new home. After 38 years living in the same house we were moving, and moving meant that along with the household goods, the furniture, all that made our house a home, her sewing room had to go along for the trip.

"I have thirty-eight more quilts to quilt this week," she said. At least I thought she said that. I couldn't really hear her clearly through the barricade, especially as her voice was muffled by the rolls of batting plugging any space a mouse might have crawled through to get to her. Not that we had mice. It was simply that she was well protected against the movers if they happened to come sooner than expected.

"You still have two months," I urged, hoping she would come to her senses finally, those senses now buried deeply somewhere in the back of her closet with some old unfinished quilts and some mercerized cotton on wooden spools left over from her childhood.

"I have to biffish the Hayan hilt," she said."

"You finished the Hawaiian quilt last week," I said. She had. I remember bandaging her worn out hands and putting drops in her eyes and putting cold compresses on her forehead and forcing her to drink some water and swallow some cheese and crackers after her day-long quilting marathon to get her first hand-quilted wall hanging finished. It hung now on her design wall. I offered to put it up in the living room, but she had said that after all that work no one was moving that quilt out of sight.

"I'll move at the end," she said through a small crack in her barricade as she poked a tiny piece of fabric out of the way.

"We already agreed that we wouldn't touch your room until we were ready to move out," I said for the thirty-second time since we had made the decision to move to a better climate where we could be closer to two out of three of our children and their families.

"I don't trust the real estate people or the moving company," she said, her voice now whistling through the crack.

"We won't show your room when you're working," I said, knowing we had no real say as to when the realtor kicked us out of the house "for just a few minutes" while she showed our house to total strangers who, Darling Wife assumed, would take all her quilting supplies as they passed through her room and leave her quilt-destitute, a condition about as appealing to her as being in an acre-wide quilt shop with no money.

"You promise?" she whispered through the crack.

"Mmmbllejdj," I said, hoping she would take that for a promise as I covered the opening with my fingers to distort my noise. I had to do something to get her out of her self-made prison, though, of course, I was the only one who thought her room a prison. She thought her room was a Quilter's Eden and, with enough food and water, a place well-worth spending the rest of eternity.

"All right then," she said back through my splayed fingers.


"Moving is heck," she said as she emerged an hour and a half later. I certainly hadn't expected her to come out right away. She has her own way of doing things and her own sense of time. To remove the barricade all at once would have been impossible. No sane woman would have attempted such a dangerous task. That would have meant sustaining an effort that would take her away from the sewing machine or cutting table for too long at one time. No, she cut and sewed and ironed and sewed again and measured and cut and pulled back her ironing board from the doorway an inch or so. Ten minutes of quilting effort later, she made another move toward the outside world. Twenty minutes brought the batting down. Thirty minutes and she had quilted the borders on her new baby quilt. Another half hour and she removed the chairs and cut ten or twenty strips of her new multi-dye fabric for some project in her new sewing room in the new house.

"You'll have a wonderful new sewing room," I said, and your new house is within an hour's drive of six or seven quilt shops. Two are within ten to 20 minutes."

"I'll quilt to that, she said, raising her rotary cutter in a salute to the future.

"We have to pack up the quilting magazines," I said then, my words cutting the moment of joy immediately. Her smile turned to a frown. Her hand fell to her side. (The blade on the cutter was safely covered.)

"But, but, you said...."

"All the magazines in the back room have to be packed," I said comfortingly. "They're all the old magazines. You still have the books and the new magazines you're working out of in your sewing room."

"But, but...."

"Do you want me to do it myself?"

"Do you really have to?"

"Yes," I said. "It won't be too bad. I'll put the boxes at the front. In an emergency, you can just rip open the box if you need to."

"Don't let me see them. Just go do it.," she said as she cast down her eyes sadly and said softly, "Be kind."

"They'll be safe until we get to the new house," I said. "And you won't have to pack anything else from your room until the very last minute of the very last day," I added.

"I want the sewing machines with me," she said then, her eyes up and bright again.


"No movers. No moving van. In the car. With me. Both sewing machines and the serger."

"We can fit them in," I said.

"And my cutting pad and some fat quarters and thread and maybe some batting."

"You want all that in the car?" Of course she did. I asked the question just to stop her from adding the iron and ironing board, her design wall, and her cutting table.

"Well, heck," she said, "that should be enough to get started again."

And I'll be doing all the unpacking alone, no doubt. No doubt at all.


(Note: Darling Wife says that there was no barricade to her room, just a few boxes of newly arrived fabric sitting the doorway that she hadn't had a chance to put away yet.)

Copyright 2001 by A.B. Silver

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