The grandchildren were being amused by the Cat in the Hat who was prancing on the television screen. I was wrapping presents for the coming holidays and December birthdays. My wandering spouse, who had moments before been in the kitchen, had wandered upstairs to finish a wall hanging she was making for our niece who loved cats. Cats made us both sneeze, unfortunately, but cartoon cats, fabric cats, and appliquéd cats, did not.
"The cat's meow," my wife said when she came down an hour later. The grandkids had finished with Dr. Seuss, I was wondering why there were so many presents to wrap, and she was talking in code.
"All right, what?" I asked.
"What's a cat's mowl?" asked one of the two grandsons.
"I'm finishing the cat, but I can't make a meow," she said. She sighed.
"Why do you want to make a cat meow?" I asked. That's a sound. Quilts don't have sounds."
"My quilt loves me," said the other of the two grandsons.
"I could cut out notes or spell meow, but that would change the look of everything."
"Meow," I said.
"I wonder where that expression comes from. Why doesn't the cat mew or yowl when someone steps on its tail accidentally? Why meow?" She stopped then, and I looked at her to go on, but she didn't.
"Cat's got your tongue?" I asked.
'That, too," she said. "Why are there so many cat sayings?"
"Like cat's pajamas?"
"Because there are a lot of cats," I said. I really didn't know, but I did know it was time for dinner. "Dinner time?" I asked.
"Set the table," she said to me, and she moved past me, missing hitting me by a cat's whisker. And in seconds she was back upstairs.
"I'll only be a minute," she said.
"I have a cat's eye marble," said our six year old grandson. Obviously, he had heard the conversation, but what could he have been thinking?
"The cat's in the cradle," she said when she came to the table.
"More cat code?" I asked.
"The wall hanging is done. Done."
"Are we going to see it?" I asked.
"I have to do the binding yet," she said.
'But you said it was finished."
"The hard part."
"That's not the same," I said.
"It is sometimes," she said. "For a quilter," she added.
"You have cats in your belfry," I said.
"Bats, not cats," she corrected.
"Will I like your cat?" I asked.
"It's not for you," she said.
"It's for Jenny, isn't it?"
"She has cats. She loves cats. A cat quilt is just right for her."
"As long as it doesn't shed," I said.
"My quilts don't shed."
"Let's eat," I said.
"Do you want to see the quilt now or after I finish the binding?" she asked.
"You always tell me to wait," I said.
"It won't be a cat-astrophe if I show it to you now," she said. She emphasized CAT.
"Do you want a gin and cat-tonic?" I asked. I emphasized CAT.
"Let's eat," she said. And we ate. I poured CATsup on my plate.
The next morning she brought down the cat to where I still lay in bed. I was awake, but I was watching the morning news. "Open your eyes," she said.
"My eyes are open," I said.
"Turn off the television," she said. "Pay attention."
I turned off the television. I paid attention to her as she held the small quilt out in front of me. I saw a cat. "It's a cat," I said.
"What did you expect?" she asked. "You know it's a cat. I've told you six hundred times it's going to be a cat quilt."
"But it's a great cat," I said.
"You expected only a good cat or a fair cat or a bad cat?"
"I expected a happy cat," I said.
"It looks very happy," I said.
"It's happy. I'm happy. I wasn't sure about doing an appliqué cat."
"So, now you're happy and I'm happy."
"Is that all you have to say. I worked day and night on this quilt."
"No, you didn't. You only worked once in a while when you weren't doing anything else, such as working on the flower quilt, and you spent at least ten days going through catalogues to drool over new fabrics."
"I didn't buy any new fabric," she said.
"That's because you're sewing room is a fabric warehouse and you don't have any room left in this house for more fabric."
"That's true. But I used a lot of fabric on this cat," she said, and she pointed at the cat she held.
"That probably used up a fat thirty-second. You could make a hundred cats if you wanted to."
'It was a fat quarter, maybe more. There is no such thing as a fat thirty-second. Now, should I wrap this up now or wait until next month."
"Now," I said. " I'm sending out all the presents the day after Thanksgiving. "We're taking December off."
"I'm not taking off from quilting," she said.
"Do you ever?" I asked. Never ever.
"Still, it's a fancy and happy cat."
I looked at the cat again. ""It is a nice cat," I said.
"Maybe I'll make a mouse next," she said.
"That will make the cat happy," I said.
"It won't be for the cat."
"The cat might be hungry," I said.
"I'll quilt it some cat food," she said.
'That sounds like a plan," I said.
"Meow," she said.
Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "A Cat's Tale" Quilt
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