"It's just like riding a bicycle," I said. "Once you get on you'll remember."
"It's not a bicycle. It's a sewing machine," she said. She sat there staring down at her sewing machine, just staring.
"You were able to sew up the seam of your pants," I said, trying to reassure her.
"That was just a simple repair, and I remember how to do that," she said.
"So, quilt simply," I said. I thought it was good advice for a woman who had forgotten how to quilt.
"Quilting's not so simple. I need lessons," she said.
"It's only been six weeks, and you don't need lessons to work on a quilt that you were working on just fine six weeks ago."
"It doesn't work like that," she said. "I've been away too long. My fingers have forgotten how."
"Your head remembers, doesn't it?" I touched the top of her head. "It is the same head," I said.
"The insides are different," she said.
"So you're not going to quilt."
"I'm going to quilt as soon as I remember how," she said, and with that she took the two squares of the wedding rings she had completed six weeks before and placed them over the feed dogs, and she lowered the pressure foot.
"You're doing fine ," I said as I saw her place the two seam allowances next to each other.
"I'm not doing anything yet," she said.
"You're sewing together two blocks of the quilt," I said, trying to assure her that she knew exactly what she was doing, but as I spoke she pulled the two blocks away from the needle and rotated them.
"Maybe I'd better start with something simple," she said.
"That looks simple enough," I said. I stared at her, wondering what had become of the mad quilter I knew who let neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night interfere with her quilting.
"That's the post office people you're thinking about," she said.
"You heard me thinking?" I asked.
"I didn't have to hear you. You told me that three times in the last hour."
"Well, it's true. You're just still feeling a little tiny bit of jet lag from our trip back from London. Otherwise," I bravely went on, "you'd have completed the quilt by now."
"I only can remember a little bit at a time," she said.
"Maybe some fish," I said.
"To help you remember. Fish feeds the brain. Have some salmon and you're brain will get into gear and you'll be fine."
"I can remember that you don't make sense at times," she said.
"I can remember how you used to quilt," I said.
"I can still quilt, but not exactly the same," she said. She rotated the squares until the curves of the wedding rings matched up.
"So quilt the way you can quilt and then later you can quilt the other way." I was trying hard to understand her, but I wasn't sure I understood even what I was saying.
"I want to quilt so that when I'm finished, these blocks and all the other blocks will fit together and the quilt will look like wedding rings not like bracelets or necklaces. People don't wear wedding bracelets or necklaces."
I didn't know what to make of that sentence, so I said, "I have confidence in you."
"I have plenty of confidence in me," she said. She looked up at me. "I've just been away too long," she said.
"Think of it like dancing," I said.
"One step at a time. After a while you won't have to think about the steps and you will be dancing. Just listen to the music." That sounded like good advice to me. "Maybe we should go dancing soon," I suggested.
"I don't want to dance now. I want to quilt."
"Climb every mountain," I said. "Follow your star. One small stitch for mankind."
"Motivation," I said. "You need a little push."
I'm not quilting mountains and stars," she began, but then she paused and sat silent a couple of minutes. I waited. "I do want to do that landscape I was thinking about when we were on the train in England. Maybe some cows and sheep," she said.
"You can put the wedding rings away for a while and do the landscape," I said.
"I can remember how to do landscapes," she said.
"Sky and hills and grass?" I asked.
"And a barn or two."
"You should get started," I said. I reached over to take away the two wedding ring blocks, but her hand came down upon mine.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Helping you get started quilting a landscape," I said.
"I have to finish the wedding rings first," she said.
"You said you forgot how to quilt the wedding rings but you remembered how to quilt landscapes." She held my hand down tight but I pulled it free.
"A quilter doesn't forget how to quilt," she said.
"You remember how to quilt?" I asked. Did I think she had forgotten? "Your head is all right inside?" I asked.
"It took too long to learn how to quilt to forget it," she said. This now was my normal quilting Darling Wife speaking, the one I remembered.
"So see, it is like riding a bicycle," I said.
"With training wheels," she said.
Only for a little while, I thought. And while I was thinking that, she began to quilt again.
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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