Margreet had gotten married, finally. Finally. So Louise had dug through her collection of calicoes and cottons — pulled out all of the bits and pieces of cloth she’d saved through the years. A square from the shirt of Margreet’s first day of school, a stripe from her favorite dress when she was a teen, a scrap of indigo, a strip of goldenrod, Louise had gathered up the fabric fragments of her daughter’s youth. She had cut, stitched, filled, tied and bound it all as one — memories of past and wishes for future affixed with thread.
“It was a beautiful quilt, Mom.” Margreet said and took a large gulp of her coffee.
“Was it?” Louise asked, “Do you still have it?”
Margreet nodded, but spoke to her cup of coffee. She didn’t look at her mother. She couldn’t. “Yes, it’s on the guest bed at my house. You’ve seen it many times. You’ve used it many times. Remember, Mom?”
Louise nodded too and smiled vaguely, but she didn’t remember. She couldn’t.
Ruthie had given birth, finally. Finally. So Louise had dug through her collection of flannels and fleeces, pulled out all of the bits and pieces of soft cloth she’d saved through the years. A remnant of her niece’s first blanket, a remainder of a cousin’s son’s first pajamas. Sewing had been harder then, her old eyes and old hands hadn’t worked together as they ought to have. But she had still cut, stitched, filled, tied and bound it all together — for her granddaughter, she fastened past and future hopes with thread.
“It was a wonderful quilt, Grandma. A sturdy quilt. Perfect for a baby,” Ruthie said.
“Was it?” Louise asked, “What’s it look like?”
Ruthie gripped her mug tightly and took a deep breath. “It’s all bright colors. All of my favorite colors. And your favorite colors. Don’t you remember, Grandma?”
Louise reached out and grabbed the girl’s hand. “Of course,” she said and squeezed, but she didn’t remember. She couldn’t.
The girls had planned to visit, finally. Finally. So Louise had dug through her whole collection of fabrics and had pulled them all out, so the whole room had been full of bits and pieces of her favorite fabrics. Coral calicoes and sea green cottons, plum fleeces and cornflower flannels, fuchsia silks and charcoal velvets — one by one she had pulled them out, to show to the girls. Her girls?
She had been proud of her fabrics. Those girls will be proud too, she’d thought.
But then her hands hadn’t worked and her eyes hadn’t worked. All of the strips and squares had fallen to the floor.
A pair of women came into her house. Louise recognized them, but couldn’t place them. They were somehow hers.
“Oh, Mom,” said the elder and reached out to Louise.
“Grandma?” said the young. Her voice cracked.
“Hello,” Louise said, “I think I’m waiting.” She stood, empty-handed, in a room full of remnants — the bits and pieces of things that old fabric, old thread holds onto. She thought she was waiting, but she didn’t remember. She couldn’t.
Jessi Cole Jackson lives and works in the pretty part of New Jersey (but she’s not from there).