"How much longer," I asked up the stairs as I waited down below for her to finish the block she was working on. She knew we had to leave for our doctor's appointment, and she said she would be right down.
"I'll be right down," she said again, but she wasn't right down. I waited some more. I opened the garage door. I drove the car out to the curb and waited.
When she finally came down, she apologized. "I had to re-sew several seams," she said. "Twelve blocks done now," she said cheerfully.
"You said a minute," I said, reproving her.
"It was a quilting minute," she said.
"How come quilting time is so different than real time?" I asked.
'Sometimes, it's exactly the same," she said. "You'd better get going. Our appointment is in fifteen minutes and the doctor doesn't like to be kept waiting."
"What are you doing now?" I asked later in the day as she paced in front of the front door, a rag in hand. Occasionally, she took a swipe at the door around the handle, wiping off accumulated dirt that always seemed to settle there from opening and closing the door so often.
"I'm waiting for my fabric," she said. "The truck should have come already. It's always on time."
"Couldn't you wait upstairs and work on your quilt while you wait?" I asked, She had been at the door three afternoons in a row waiting for the fabric she said she needed to finish the quilt though she wouldn't need the fabric until she finished all the blocks, which she was twenty-five blocks away from finishing.
"I thought it might come today," she said. She wiped at the white paint on the back of the door one last time then turned and walked back to the kitchen. "I don't like to wait," she said.
Since she took up quilting, and even more so as she became better at it, our house has become one big waiting room. And most of the time I am doing the waiting.
"I do a lot of waiting, too," she said as she just now looked over my shoulder to see what I was writing.
"You are always waiting for good things, your packages of fabric, your quilt magazines in the mail, a new quilt show on television, the next quilt project," I said back over my shoulder, but she was already out of the room. She couldn't wait for my reply.
"I'm waiting for dinner," I hollered after her, but my words barely made it to the door in the time she was back up in her sewing room. Besides, it was my turn to make dinner, and no doubt she would keep me waiting.
Once we had been waiting in line at the fabric store, the two yards of fabric she wanted for some future quilt she thought she would make someday though that project would have to wait until she finished all the other projects in between. There was only one woman in front of us, but we had to wait ten minutes as the clerk scanned each of the woman's many notions into the register. One five-pack of number 90 universal needles, one spool of puce thread, one packet of four red heart buttons, one roll of 1.4 inch masking tape, one bobbin, and on and on. We waited patiently. We have no waiting rage in our lives.
Two weeks before we had traveled sixty miles to see our daughter and have lunch and, just by chance, pick up some fabric on sale at a nearby quilt shop we just happened to pass. The drive home took six hours as just a few minutes earlier a drunken driver had driven into a tanker truck and closed eight lanes of freeway just before we reached that section of highway. We waited and waited and waited. While we waited, we went for a walk among the stalled cars on the freeway. "I wonder what a traffic jam quilt would look like," she said as we passed several trucks and waved to the drivers who were chatting about some sporting event they were missing because of the accident. "I could appliqué a lot of cars and SUVs and vans and trucks."
"I'm never driving again," I said as I waited for the traffic to finally clear.
"You have to wait until I finish one more block and then I want you to tell me what it looks like," she said. She had finished eleven blocks and they were arranged on her design wall, but she wanted me to wait until she had twelve blocks before I could look at the future quilt.
"All right," I said, but she didn't finish that block that day or the next.
"I'm waiting for the new pattern to come in the mail. I'm not sure I'm still in the mood to finish this quilt until I see what the new pattern looks like and how difficult it will be to do."
'So, you want me to wait for the new pattern while I'm waiting for you to finish the twelfth block so I can tell you how nice the design looks on the design wall and that I can't wait until you finish it?"
"I have to wait for the mail before I can make up my mind," she explained. "I've been waiting to make the new quilt ever since I saw it in Quilt Magazine last month."
'Wait a minute, "I said. "If you knew you were going to make the new quilt why did you start the quilt you're working on?" I thought about covering my ears before she answered so I wouldn't have to think about what she was saying, but she was too fast for me.
"I couldn't wait around doing nothing. A quilter has to quilt."
The pattern came and she looked at it while I was waiting for dinner. It was her turn to cook, but somewhere on her way to the microwave to get the casserole she had made ahead and frozen, for those times when she was too busy quilting to cook, she passed the pile of mail I had brought in earlier and she saw the pattern. She took it to the table with a bottle of Ketchup and then opened it--the pattern not the Ketchup--and she looked at it and sat down and looked at it some more. "It's challenging," she said as she looked up for a moment as I was bringing the food to the table.
"Can't it wait until after dinner?" I asked. She just looked at me.
"I don't know if I want to do this now while I'm in the middle of the quilt I'm working on. This one can wait."
In our modern society, waiters in many restaurants, because the word waitress is no longer commonly used, are called servers. I served her.
I'm still waiting to see her work on her design wall. But I am good at waiting. I have a book to read. I have the television set. I have plants to tend to. I have the trash to take out. I have to eat occasionally. I have to shower and brush my teeth. I have to put gas in the car. I can do all of these things and many more while I am waiting.
"Honey," she said to me just ten minutes ago, "I want to go look at a new sewing machine."
"Is there something wrong with your sewing machine?" I asked.
"No, but if it ever breaks down I'll need a new one."
"So, you don't need it right now? You might not need it for six weeks or six months or six years?"
"I don't know when it will break down and can't be fixed, but when it does fall apart I don't want to have to wait for a new one, do I?"
"No, why should you wait?" Why, indeed?
Copyright 2002 by A.B. Silver
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