When I'm 164




"Will you still love me?" she asked out of the blue even though it was a very cloudy day and we were caught in a drizzle as we came home from the library.

"Yes, I still love you," I said.

"I don't mean now," she said as the drizzle became rain and her words were wet.

"Whenever," I said as I wiped rain from my glasses so I could see to unlock the front door. I opened the door and she damply squished past me into the house. I followed her into the house and into the bathroom where we grabbed for towels and wiped ourselves dry before she spoke again.

"Whenever is not an answer," she said as she pulled the towel from her head.

Since we had been in the house a busy five minutes spent getting dry, I had forgotten our walking-in-the-rain conversation. "Ask me again," I said. I assumed she had asked me a question and I had probably given her a wrong answer.

"I asked you," she said as she casually flicked her towel at me, "if you will still love me."

"When?" I asked. She flicked the towel again, harder and better aimed.

"When I'm one hundred sixty-four," she said.

"Ouch, I said. "Don't you mean sixty-four?" Listening to the Beatles years before, we had both pledged our hearts at least that long.

"No, I mean one hundred sixty-four."

"All right," I said. I'm easy, but I'm also curious. "Do we plan to be around that long," I asked.

"We have to be if you want me to finish," she said.

"Finish?" I caught the towel before it flicked again and moved down the hallway to the kitchen. She followed me without saying a word. When I opened the refrigerator, she answered.

"Your quilt," she said.

"I have a quilt," I said.

"I know you have a quilt. But you said you liked the Friendship Star quilt, so I have to make one for you."

"Is there a problem that needs to be solved here?" I asked. "I don't need a new quilt."

"I started it," she said. I reached for the bowl of salad on the top shelf.

"You stared what? I asked. I put the bowl of salad on the kitchen counter.

"I started your quilt, but I won't be able to finish it right away," she said.

"That's all right," I said. I went back to the refrigerator for the salad dressing.

"I finished forty squares already," she said.

"You did?"

"I need a lot more than that," she said.

"You do?" I found the salad dressing hidden behind the large economy-size Ketchup bottle.

"But I have too many other projects I want to do too," she said. "Maybe I can use the squares in a different project. That way they won't have to wait."

"You just said they were for my quilt," I protested. I wanted those squares to hang around as long as I did.

"I can make others. In the meantime, I can use them in some gift quilts...."

I stopped her. "Such as?" I asked pointedly.

"Such as that housewarming quilt I plan to make or the table runners or the pot holders."

"You'd give away my squares?" Where was her loyalty?

"Maybe not," she said. She paused and looked at me. I looked back. "All right, I'll save them for you. It's just that there are so many quilts I want to make." She was wistful. I knew that look.

"You have a lot of quilts on your list," I confirmed. Were all quilters' lists endless? Her list was friends with eternity.

"You don't mind waiting?"

"How long?" I reached into the freezer for some bread to go with the salad.

"A long time," I said.

"All right," I agreed. "I won't mind waiting."

"More than a hundred years," she added.

"That is a long time," I said, thinking it through. The bread would be well-thawed out by then.

"Will you still love me?"

"Until you finish my quilt?"

"I'll be one hundred sixty-four," she said.

"That's very old," I said. Would I need a quilt then?

"I have to finish all the other projects," she said.

"You have that many projects?" Of course she did. She was long past her list of thirty-nine projects. Every time she opened a quilting magazine she added a new project. Every trip to a quilt shop brought a new project or two. One trip to a quilt show can add a dozen projects. Another project and blood banks won't call her any more because of her having too high a quilt-project count in her blood. "I know someone who only made one quilt in her whole life," I added. It was a fib, a little white lie, but I had to do something to discourage her from taking on any more projects.

"Who was that?" she asked.

"It was in some quilt magazine," I said, compounding my chicanery.

"You're just making that up. But it doesn't matter. I am going to keep on quilting for a long time. So, just tell me now, will you still care for me when I'm an old, old woman who can barely see the quilt, let alone the sewing machine, when I'm shriveled down into nothing with age, still working away hour after hour, day after day, squinting at every stitch just to finish your quilt?"

"Absolutely," I said. I know which side of my bread the butter's on. Bread! I went back into the refrigerator for the butter.

"I just wanted to know," she said.

"Three thousand and one," I said.


"Will you still love me until the next millennium?

"What will take you that long to finish?" she asked.

"Getting my dinner," I said.

"Don't be silly."

"Love isn't silly," I said.

"You're right," she said. Then she paused, looked at me, and said, "Do you want some hearts on your quilt?"

"Yes, hearts," I said. "I think I want lots of hearts." I will need them all when I'm one hundred sixty-four.

Copyright 1998 by A.B. Silver

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