The Search





She had finally finished her quilt project and was planning to take a few days off and not think about quilts for awhile. She was ready to loll around, go for walks, sleep late. My Darling Wife's newest quilt was on the bed, the fabric put back on the shelves, the notions in the drawers. She had vacuumed up the lint and threads and replaced the blades in her rotary cutters. She had cleaned the bobbin case, put in a new needle, and put the sewing machine to rest. She was smiling, relaxed, finished with the project and feeling just fine. That feeling lasted five minutes.

"I forgot about Bryce," she said as she took my hand for an easy walk around our neighborhood before lunch. "I said I was going to make a quilt for him."

Bryce, one of our six grandchildren, didn't know she was going to make a quilt for him, so I saw no need for her to be in any kind of hurry. After her day-and-night experience with the finished quilt, she really did need a break. "You need a break," I said.

"I am on break. I already know what kind of quilt I'm going to make, a cuddle quilt or a comfort quilt. I already picked out the pattern, so that means I don't have to use any time off in choosing a pattern." She gave me that look that a quilter gives which says something like, "Having the pattern already saves weeks of trying to decide."

"I've already saved weeks of time trying to decide," she said.

"What kind of choice have you already made," I asked.

"A choice of a cute quilt for a six-year-old. It's in one of the quilting magazines," she added.

"Which quilting magazine?" I asked.

"It's in one of the magazines I looked through the time I was looking for that pattern with the frogs."

"I liked the frogs," I said. "What kind of quilt are you going to make now?"

"I remember I really liked the pattern when I saw it. As soon as I find it, I'll know if it's the one I remember."


"I have to find the pattern," she said.

"But we're going for a walk," I protested.

'It'll only take a minute," she said, releasing my hand and turning back into the house.

"You know exactly where it is?" I asked after her. I know what a quilter's minute is like.

"I think so," she said, her words falling down the stairs behind her as she ran up to her sewing room. "Just wait a minute."

I waited a minute. After two minutes I closed the door. After five minutes I picked up the outgoing mail on the table by the door, opened the door again, and walked down to the mailbox and put the letters through the slot. When I returned five more minutes later, she was standing at the foot of the stairs holding a pile of quilting magazines. "Here take these," she said. I took them. "Put them on the kitchen table so I can look through them."

"You're going to look through them for the pattern, aren't you?" I guessed. My guess was based on experience. That experience was long and hard. She was a quilter. I was married to her. "You couldn't find it," could you?" I asked.

"It should be in that pile," she said as she ran back up the stairs. I put the pile on the table. She came back down with another pile of magazines. I thought about our walk.

"What about our walk?"

"I'm ready," she said, surprising me, but then I thought of how she liked to go for a walk to clear her head, to keep herself in shape for quilting.

"Let's go," I said, and off we went.

We were back in time for lunch, and as we sat down, she pulled the two piles of magazines close to her plate. "I'll find the pattern in a minute," she said. And she began her search,

By the end of lunch, as I was clearing the table, she was going through the twenty or so magazines for the second time. I lifted her plate and she looked at me. "I thought for sure it would be in one of these magazines," she said.

"You could do another pattern," I said. She could. She had enough patterns to make a quilt for every grandchild in the world.

"I know which one I want to make," she said. It's probably in a different magazine."

"Are you sure it isn't in one of your quilt books. She had more than a few.

"It was in a magazine. I remember seeing it and thinking it would be perfect. I put it aside, but then I started the other quilt and then another and it's probably in the next pile."

"Are you going to look now or are you going to relax some more? She had relaxed a few minutes on our walk, but then she had spent most of the time trying to recall the names of all her quilt magazines and which one the pattern might be in waiting for her to find it.

"We have to go to the quilt show at the museum," she said.

"Oh, yes," I remembered. "The quilt show in Oceanside. Maybe you can get an idea for a quilt there." She always came home from quilt shows with ideas and our camera full of photos. Her head and our house was full of ideas.

"I don't need an idea. I already have an idea. I'll find it later."

Later was dinner, and at dinner she put three more piles of quilt magazines around her plate. As she ate, she looked. Page after page, magazine after magazine, she looked. I finished dinner. She was still looking. I cleared the table. She opened more magazines. "I have to be close to finding it," she said.

She wasn't. In the morning, she didn't come down to breakfast. I went up to find her in the sewing room, piles of magazines in front of her. I opened one of the magazines and found a pattern for a boy's quilt full of lions and tigers. "You could use this," I said.

"That's not the one," she said.

"Bryce won't know," I said.

"That's not the one."

I looked at a few more magazines, suggested a few more good candidates for cute quilts, but she kept shaking her head.

"No, not that one. It was one with cars or trains or sports."

"You're not sure now?"

"I'm sure. I'm not just sure which one. I think a train or car. I'll know it when I see it."

"Do you want breakfast?" I asked.

"Of course," and she did. She followed me down to breakfast. She carried a new pile of magazines. I carried a new pile of magazines.

"It will probably be in the last magazine you look at," I joked as she sipped her tea with one hand and opened magazines with the other.

"I'm almost there," she said.

"Are there any more to look at?" I hoped not.

"These are the last."

I hoped.


Three days later she gave up, surrendered, gave in, collapsed in defeat.

I went to where she sat amidst the last few magazines. She had gone through them all, all the books, too, (just in case), looked again and again, and sat now in exhaustion, only our twice-daily walks and fresh air giving her any time off.

"You can use one of the other ones you found," I said.

"I really wanted to find that one," she said.

"Quilters go on," I said wisely, knowing her.

"All right," she said, resigned. "Just help me clean up the mess."

I helped, peeking into a magazine every now and then one last time, and then I saw a quilt I liked. It could be a substitute, I thought. Any boy would like it. It was bright and happy and cute. "You could try this one instead," I said. "It would work."

"No," she began, but then she looked at the photo. "Yes, That's it. I knew it was there. I told you it was there. That's the one, the one with the train."

"It's a train," I agreed. She really needed some rest. "It could be the one," I urged.

"I found it. See," she said.

"This is the one you were looking for?"

"I found it," she said. "Now I can get started."

"Are you sure?" I thought a few days sleep might help her recover.

"Of course I'm sure. I'm tired from all the rest and relaxation you forced on me. I can only take it easy so long. Now it's quilt time," she said.

"Ah, yes, quilt time."



Copyright 2002 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Bryce's Quilt"

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