Quitting Day, Again!
"This time I mean it," she said. Joan, my darling wife, was standing at the foot of the stairs, looking up toward the doorway that led into her sewing room, her quilting room. She had been standing there several moments, quiet, breathing softly, but her breath changed and became hard as she spoke out.
"You always mean it," I said. I was not yet aware of what she was saying, but as she is the woman I cherish, and because of her tone of voice, I accepted what she said. If she meant it, she meant it, whatever it was.
"I never was sure before," she said.
"Sure about what?" I asked. She was always sure, I was sure.
"I'm going to quit quilting," she said, and before I could say something in my surprise, she went on. "Yes, yes, I know I said it before, but my decision is made and it's final this time."
I wanted to say, "Ho, ho, ho," but for the last few days she had been walking around in a mope, her face drawn, her eyes downcast, a look of permanent sorrow on the edge of showing up. "It was only bad directions," I said, "or maybe the fact that you ran out of the fabric you needed," I added, "or maybe you just need a few days off."
"I need a lot of days off. I need forever off," she said.
"Well, if you're sure?"
"I quit," she said.
"What about all your unfinished quilts, all the fabric, all the thread?" I asked.
"What about them?"
"You're going to leave a lot of unfinished business if you quit quilting," I said.
"Are you trying to talk me out of quitting quilting?" she asked. She stood by the kitchen table, one hand on the back of her chair.
"Could I talk you out of anything?" I asked in return.
She sat and pulled the chair in under her. I tried to tell from her look, her countenance, her lips and eyes and skin what she was thinking, what she was feeling, but her face kept changing, her features bright then dim then blank then animated. "I'm ready for lunch," she said.
"Why are you quitting this time?"
"I've quilted enough," she said.
"You tried quitting before, going cold turkey, but it never worked," I said. I had said that before. I had listened to her complain before, too, about too much quilting, not enough time, not enough fabric, not enough room in the house. "So, how do you intend to break your habit, kick your addiction?"
"I just quit," she said.
"Just? Like just now?"
"Oh, yes, indeed," she said.
"Hah," I said.
We went for a walk then. We went shopping after that. Then we worked for a while in the yard. Four hours went by. In mid-afternoon, she turned to me as we began to clean out a shed in the yard.
"See," she said.
"See what?" The shed was a mess. I could see that.
"See, I haven't quilted in four hours."
"That's not a long time," I said.
"For a quilter it's a lifetime," she said.
"Hah," I said.
We finished cleaning the shed.
We had dinner and then went for another walk.
We watched television before going to bed.
"Eight hours," she said.
"Is that a new television show?" I asked.
"I haven't quilted for eight hours, and I don't miss it one bit. I don't miss cutting and sewing and ironing and sewing and cutting and quilting at all."
"Hah," I said.
In the morning, she said, "Sixteen hours. Maybe more. I'm wondering I should give my fabric away?"
"Why would you do that. You know whatever you give away will be the exact fabric you need for your next quilt."
"There won't be a next quilt. I've quit and I feel fine. No twinges of remorse, no regrets, no sorrows. Maybe now my fingers will stop hurting and my back will straighten out once in a while and my eyes won't hurt from the strain of threading a needle which I won't stick in my thumb."
"So you're getting serious about quitting for real?"
"What have I been saying?"
"You've been telling me that you've been a little under the quilting weather, that you haven't been inspired lately, that you need some breathing space."
"I feel fine. My head is clear. I have no fever. I am not trembling. No withdrawal symptoms."
"Sounds good to me," I said. Actually, it didn't. I couldn't tell what was going on yet, but something was going on. Perhaps symptoms would manifest themselves in time. I needed to think of how to deal with them, with her, when that time came. That time wasn't yet.
It was during our afternoon walk, during another stretch of time that day that she wasn't quilting, that we stopped in a friend's coin shop. His wife was pregnant, had been for several months. For the fourth or fifth time we asked whether it was a boy or a girl. Previously, he had answered with a shrug and a "We don't know yet. It's still a baby."
This time we didn't ask him. "Aren't you going to ask?" he asked.
"About what?" I said.
"The baby," he said.
"How is the boy?" my darling asked.
"Who told you?"
"So it's a boy? Congratulations!" I said. We both smiled at him and he smiled back. He and his wife had wanted a boy or a girl. It was a fifty-fifty guess.
"October," he said.
"A boy," my Darling Wife said, the two words a song coming from between her lips. There was a glint in her eyes.
We continued our walk, went shopping again for home necessities, and finally arrived home. As I opened the trunk of the car to remove some groceries and paper goods, she disappeared into the house. Well, maybe she was making tea. It was tea time. But when I went into the kitchen, she wasn't there. I put the groceries in the kitchen, went back to the car and took the 18-roll package of toilet paper we had bought and carefully climbed the stairs. I saw her in her sewing room. I dropped the toilet paper in the hall and went to her.
She stood by her sewing machine. She just stood there looking down at the machine. I turned my look away from her head and looked down along her body, down her arms. In one hand she held a piece of blue fabric.
"It's going to be a boy," she said to the fabric. I doubt if she noticed me.
"What is?" I asked.
"The baby," she said, still without looking at me.
"And?" I had to ask the question. What was she doing with fabric in her hand and a dazed gaze staring at the sewing machine. "Whose baby?"
"Danny and Tina's baby. Who do you think?"
"I don't know. Barbara, Mary, Gretta. Andrea. Lois? A million women have babies every day."
"We don't know them. And Danny and Tina's baby will need a quilt," she said.
"He will? Already?" October was still months away and summer was only a few days off. The baby would probably stay warm where it was for awhile.
"A boy baby quilt," she said.
"Who's going to make the quilt?" I asked. I just had to ask.
For the first time since I had come into the room she looked away from the sewing machine toward me. "I am, of course," she said, and she gave me a very strange look, strange even for a quilter. "I have to get started."
"So, no quitting quilting?" I asked.
"How can I quit now?" she said as she turned her gaze back to the sewing machine. She was done with me, but she wasn't done with quilting.
"Hah," I said.
Copyright 2005 by A.B. Silver
Click here to see finished "Heart of My Heart" Quilt
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