I Spy Paul


"Where's the book?" I asked her.

"What book?" She asked me.

"The book for Paul?" I said.

"You had it," she said.

"I know I had it. Where is it?"

"Where did you see it last?"

"I wrapped it and put it with the other gifts," I said.

"So, that's where it is," she said.

Only it wasn't.


And that is why she made the quilt. As it turned out, when I realized I had put the wrapped book meant for Paul's first birthday into a box of gifts we had wrapped for two of our grandchildren, a box we had already mailed off, and that as the package was labeled not to be opened until the grandchildren's birthdays a month in the future, then it would be too late to give Paul the gift even if the grandchildren unwrapped all their presents ahead of time and found the missing book. So, she decided to make a quilt.


"What kind of quilt?" I asked. Since she had taken up quilting, that was the question she had to ask every time, and that was the question she struggled to answer for days, weeks, and months. Usually, of course she asked the question herself, but I had gotten into the habit of asking it as well, often before she could ask.

"A baby quilt," she said. "Paul's going to be one."

"You've made a lot of baby quilts," I said. She had. Swaddling quilts, crib quilts, wall-hangings for the nursery, cuddle quilts, jump-on quilts, roll around on quilts, security quilts, I-Spy quilts, and quilts that were simply quilts.

"Something simple," she said. "I don't know. Maybe something easy and quick. We don't have much time. He'll be one in a few weeks."

"You decide," I said, forcing the decision onto her, getting myself out from under, for any decision I made about what kind of quilt to make for a little one year old boy would not be the right one even if it were the right one.

"I'll decide," she said.


It took her three days to decide. "I've decided," she said after three days.

"An appliqué quilt with worms and baseballs with a log cabin design wrapped around a snowball center," I guessed. I guessed wrong.

"An I-Spy quilt he can cuddle and crawl around on and jump on," she said.

"What's he going to spy?" I said.

"Things," she said.

"Do you have things?"

"I'll look through my scrap pile. Maybe I have some bugs left over or fish or flowers or bears or boats."

"And pictures," I said.

"They're all pictures," she said.

"No, I mean real pictures. Of Paul. Baby pictures. They sent us thousands of photos of the baby." They had. In this age of digital photography, every week at first, and soon every month, we found photos on the Internet of the boy. We knew what he looked like.

"Photo transfers?" she asked.

"Why not?"

"Why aren't they ready yet?" she asked.

"I'll make a couple," I said.

"Four or five," she said. "I'll start cutting up fabric."


I shouldn't have suggested it. We did have, if not thousands, several hundred photos filed away on the hard drive of my computer. How does one, this spouse of a quilter, choose four or five photographs from the zillions it soon seemed I was going through just to find four or five representative ones that would please the parents of the boy, parents who cherished that boy and had photographed him every three seconds or so since his first sonogram in the womb.

We are the honorary grandparents of the boy, not related by blood, but related somewhat nevertheless. The parents were friends, married late, eager to have a child, and we encouraged them. "Have a baby," we said. (One reason we encouraged them, I suppose, was so that my Darling Wife would have another reason to make another quilt. Make babies, make quilts. Of course!) And they did have a baby, Baby Paul, though I am not sure our encouragement really added to their decision to be proud parents. Did I say very proud parents?

I chose four photos, digitilized four photos, printed out four photos on fabric, ironed and rinsed the fabric to make the colors colorfast, and I gave them to the quilter. "Here," I said.


"Can you spy the babies?" she asked when she had finished the quilt.

She held it out in front of her. I looked up and down the quilt. I looked side to side.

"I see four baby Pauls," I said.

"Will he be able to see himself and know who he is?" she asked.

"At one?" I said to myself." To her, I said, "I'm sure he'll see the unicorns and the stars and the frogs and the bees and the sailboats and the bears," I said.

"What about the Pauls?" she asked,

"He'll spy himself in four different places and he will smile and he will stand up and walk all over the quilt and sit down and cuddle with the quilt and he will know whose quilt it is."

"Good, then," she said.

"Good for you," I said.

"What?" she asked.

"I spy you," I said. I did, and I took the quilt away from her and folded it and put it on the table in the living room. I gave her my hand in return and took her out of the house and we walked to the park near our home. At the park there were 22 million tots playing in the tot lot.

"I wonder if they all have quilts," she said.

"No more quilts," I said. "Not today, anyway."

"Not today," she agreed. I didn't want to think about tomorrow.



Copyright 2006 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "I Spy Paul" Quilt

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