Thursday, December 17, 2009
As mentioned previously, I was given the privilege of reading my stories on the Radio Show "Life Rattle". The second story I read was "Grandma's Quilt", a slight re-write of the piece by the same name.
* * *
“You will put it on your marital bed.” It was a command, rather than a request, as Grandma lay the handmade quilt in my lap. She shrugged.
“Of course, not on the first night. You won’t need a blanket then.” She winked and I felt the heat blaze across my face. This was not the kind of conversation you had with your grandmother!
“What?” Her eyebrows shot up and disappeared beneath her grey fringe. “You think I’m too old to think of such things.” She wagged a finger at me. “Let me tell you something...”
I groaned. Please, I begged to whatever deity may be listening, don’t let her paint too vivid a picture.
She lowered herself beside me on the sofa and arranged the colourful quilt over our laps. Her hand, twisted with painful arthritis, caressed the bright starbursts. The tiny hand-sewn stitches were evenly spaced, despite Grandma’s failing eyesight and limited mobility.
“Each star is balanced. The points spread out, but they are anchored in the center.” She smiled at me. “Just like you and Philip,” and she covered my smooth hand with her wrinkled one. We were both keenly aware of the contrast, but said nothing.
“You complement each other. Where one is weak, the other is strong; you support one another when it is needed most. And when you argue…” My head snapped up. Grandma gave me a small tap on the hand. “Oh, you’ll argue, don’t kid yourself. You’ll want to leave…or he will.” She traced a finger along one of the points, from one end to the other.
“You’ll be as far away from each other as you can ever be.”
My stomached tightened. How could this woman speak so negatively? She and Grandpa had such a wonderful marriage. Why was she telling me this the day before I was getting married? My shock must have been obvious, because she took my hand and brought my finger to touch the middle of the starburst.
“But you will always come back here. To the center.” Grandma looked up at me and I knew what she was trying to tell me.
“To the heart,” I whispered. She nodded, pleased that I understood.
“When you’ve both said you’re sorry and you’re done with the lovemaking…” I rolled my eyes, but smiled when she gave me a pointed stare “…then you wrap yourselves up in this blanket and hold each other close. And remember why you fell in love in the first place.”
I nodded, swallowed down the lump in my throat and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “I promise, Grandma.”
I swiped at a tear. “Did you and Grandpa have a marriage quilt?”
She nodded, her clear blue eyes lost in memories. “We used it quite a bit that first year. We were so young,” she shook her head sadly, “we didn’t know what we were doing. But we figured it out soon enough and it made us stronger.”
Grandma let out a quiet laugh. “After a few years, whenever we argued, right in the middle of screaming at each other, one of us would storm out and come back carrying the quilt. We usually started laughing and forgot about fighting.”
I grinned. “I hope Philip and I have as good a marriage as you and Grandpa.”
Grandma cupped her hand to my cheek and winked. “Just try not to smother him with the quilt.”