First, I dialed 911.
"Nine-one-one. State your emergency."
"I can't stop her."
"What is the danger?"
"I tried to stop her. But she just keeps on."
"Are you in danger, Sir?"
"Not, not me. I don't think I am. Well, no. But, she's on fire."
"Fire?" I'll connect you with the Fire Department. Please hold."
"No, there's no fire. I mean, I think she's on fire. Sometimes, she sweats when she's all heated up with excitement."
"Fire Department. Hello?""
"No, there's not a real fire."
"Is there a medical emergency?"
"Do you need a paramedic?"
"No, not now."
"You have a non-emergency?"
"It's just that I miss her."
"I'll transfer your call to missing persons. Please hold!"
"Missing persons here. Hello."
"I miss my wife," I said.
"Has she been missing 24 hours?"
"No, I mean it's been days."
"When did you notice she was missing."
"She's not missing. I miss her."
"You know where she is?"
"She's in her sewing room."
"Quilting," I said.
All I want, really, is for my Darling Wife to stop quilting so much. She's on her fourth quilt in a row. She quilted a rooster, an eagle, a baby quilt for the coming baby, but we know now that baby is going to be a girl, so she started the Sunbonnet Sue quilt for a girl. Is there anything wrong in my wanting her to take a break, Doctor?"
That's what I would have asked had I gone to a therapist, some wise soul who could explain to me why she quilted so much and what I could do about it. But I didn't seek out 911 or the fire department or the paramedics or missing persons or go to a psychologist. Instead I asked my Sweetie a reasonable question.
"Do you have to quilt so much?" I asked. I stood at the door of her sewing room peering in at her as she quilted the baby quilt. She meandered. The sewing machine hummed. She pushed the quilt along and around and back and around.
"I'll be done a couple of days," she said.
"And then you'll stop?"
"I stop all the time," she said.
"When do you stop?"
"I stop for meals. I stop to sleep. I stop when we go for a walk, but it's raining now, so I'm getting a little extra time to finish up."
"You read quilting magazines while you eat. You dream about quilts when you sleep. I hear you talking in your sleep about the color for your binding. You look for ideas for the next quilt and the next one after that while we walk."
"Maybe," she said, and she pressed the foot to the pedal and the sewing machine hummed and the stitches meandered around the quilt.
"You're stopping after this quilt," I said with emphasis on the words, "You're stopping after THIS quilt."
"All right," she said.
She finished the baby quilt last night. She brought it down to the living room where I sat. I stopped what I was doing, which was nothing, but sometimes doing nothing gets to be work, so I stopped as she unfolded the quilt and showed it to me. "Gingham Girls," she said.
"Sunbonnet Sue," I said.
"I used up all the gingham I bought in England four years ago. One hundred percent cotton. Gingham Girls, not sunbonnets."
"They're wearing sunbonnets," I said.
"For a baby girl. Friends for her to play with."
"The baby will wear gingham, too," I said.
"Sometimes," she said.
"I like the quilt," I said.
"It's finished now. I'm finished now."
"You're not quilting now."
"I'm here, not in the sewing room."
"Not missing," I said.
"Not on fire," I said.
"What's on fire. Did you burn something?"
"No. nothing," I said. "You're not quilting now." She wasn't, was she? Maybe.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
"I was just thinking, now that you're finished the quilt, we can take a ride tomorrow. Maybe go to the beach."
"To the zoo," she said.
"The zoo would be nice."
"Why do you want to go to the zoo?"
"Well, yes, animals," I said. Then I realized what she was saying. "You already quilted a Noah's Ark," I said frantically.
"I'm not going to quilt any animals."
"Are you sure? After four quilts in a row?"
"I'm stopping now. I have to rest, regenerate, take it easy."
"Yes, yes," I said. I smiled at her. Yes!
"I'm waiting for the new paper-piecing book anyway. I want to make a grown-up quilt. We can go to the zoo and the beach and spend some time together. You're always so busy in the yard or sitting at the computer," she said.
"I'm busy?" Was I hearing her correctly?
"You need some time off," she said.
"Yes, of course. Tomorrow I will take some time off."
"You need to take it easy," she said.
"Yes," I said. "I will take it easy. We both will take it easy," I whispered to her, feeling a bit guilty, but not that guilty. I didn't tell her the new book she was waiting for had come just that afternoon. Maybe in a few days I would tell her. In the meantime.
Copyright 2004 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Gingham Girls Quilt"
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