My Quilt





My arms hurt from stretching them ten feet beyond where they reached to put up the new quilt hanger to hang the new quilt she had just completed. I tightened the wooden knobs to hold the quilt in place, and then my fingers hurt. Climbing down the ladder, I hit my shins on the aluminum rungs, and the pain left me gasping for breath.

"Looks good," my Darling Overseer said as she backed up to make sure the quilt hanger and the quilt were both level.

"My neck hurts from looking up," I said. I tried to rotate my head but it only moved an inch and then stopped. I turned my body instead. "I'm going to lie down," I said. I rubbed my neck and then bent to rub my shins.

"One more thing," she said then.

"Tomorrow," I said. "Or next month," I added hopefully. "I'm never hanging another quilt," I said. Or so I planned. As all the wall space in the house was now taken up with quilts, I had hopes of my body healing and my life becoming once again one of indolence and lethargy.

"You have to help me decide my next project," she said.

"You decide," I said, not wanting to get involved with that again. She had a dozen next projects. A hundred next projects. As long as there existed the tiniest breath in her body, as long as there existed a world with room for more quilts, she would not run out of projects.

"All right," she said.

"No, wait," I said.

"What?" she asked. She kept looking at the quilt hanging on the wall, moving backward, squinting at it, opening her eyes fully, finally smiling.

"I want a quilt," I said.

"What?" she turned from the quilt and looked at me. I tried rubbing my back, which seemed to have puckers in it from my having stretched it beyond human possibility.

"I want a quilt for the bed," I said.

"There already is a quilt," she said. "Two quilts. The Amish quilt and the friendship star quilt."

"They're old. It's almost spring and I want a spring quilt. My own colors, My own fabrics. My choices." I tried moving my fingers, to see if they would ever work again. Slowly, they extended and then I made a fist. My hands still worked.

"You want your own quilt on the bed when you already have two special quilts made with love, queen-size quilts that I worked on forever?"

"It's been two years since you made them, and they were your choices. And since you desperately need my help in choosing your next project, I am going to help you. Bring me some of your books to look through. I want a quilt I can call my own this time. My choices." I tried walking. At least I could still walk.

"All right," she said. "But don't pick out something ridiculous."

"Go! Get the books."


I picked out the quilt I wanted, and I ordered the fabric for my quilt, and I waited for the delivery, and then I put the book at her place at dinner.

"What do you think?" I asked as she opened the book to the place I had marked.

"This is the quilt you want?" she asked.


"It will take a lot of fabric," she said.


"Fabric I don't have," she said. "I could make something like it with some scraps I have left from the last five quilts."

"This quilt," I said softly but firmly. Very firmly.

"It's not you," she said.

"What's not me?"

"The colors. The style. Too soft. Too subtle."

"I'm soft. I'm subtle," I said. "It's a quilt for spring. We already have dark and bold and tough quilts."

"Are you sure?"

"Don't you like it?"

"Of course, I like it. But I still need to get fabric, and you said we ran out of fabric money two years ago."

"Make it out of these scraps," I said. "Here." I handed her the bundle of fabric I'd ordered for the quilt that matched the yardage of the pattern in the book, yard for yard, color for color.

"We're broke now, aren't we?" she asked. She touched the fabric. Her eyes blazed with passion for the fabric.

"We'll eat less."

"It's soft and warm and subtle," she said.

"Me, too," I said. "Go quilt."


She quilted. Actually, she sorted and arranged. First the colors. She matched them to the illustration in the book. The colors didn't actually match the printed colors, but she said they were close enough. "They're close enough," she said.

She measured and marked and measured again.

Then, she cut. She ripped. She wielded the rotary cutter as would a champion swordswoman. She parried, She feinted. She chopped. She thrust. She slashed the fabric into long strips.

She arranged the pieces on her design wall.

Then she began the piecing.

Hour after hour, day after day, she put together my quilt. "You can't see it until I'm done," she said when I tried sneaking into her sewing room.

"It's my quilt," I protested.

"Not yet. It's mine until I'm finished. Mine!" she said.

"When will you be finished?"

"I'll let you know," she said. "I'm starting the binding."

"My binding," I said. My quilt was almost finished.


"Are you sure you want the quilt?" she said this morning as I brought in the morning paper.

"Yes," I said. "The bed is naked without a new quilt. This whole house will be ashamed if the bedroom doesn't have a new quilt in it. The whole neighborhood will be shamed without a new quilt in this house."

"You really want this quilt, don't you?"

"You put your quilts on the bed. You put your quilts in the guest room. You put your quilts on the walls. You put your quilts on the sofa and the table. I want my quilt on the bed."

"It already is," she said.

"What already is?" I asked.

"Come look," she said. She turned away from me and headed toward the bedroom. I followed her. "Now, what do you see,' she said moving away from in front of me so that I could see the bed.

"A new quilt," I said, almost astonished. I've known her too long to be absolutely astonished. "My new quilt. When did you do that?"

"The Quilt Fairy put it there," she said.

"She has good taste," I said.

"Yes, doesn't she?" she said. "Do you like it?"

"My quilt? Of course, I like it. I love it."

"You're welcome."

"Thank you!"

"Now, about that food budget...."


Copyright 2003 by A.B. Silver

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