Ch.166 Ron Goes to a Quilting Show with a Friend and with Pat

Ch.166 Ron Goes to a Quilting Show with a Friend and with Pat

Sept. 7-8, 2022

          Several years ago, Pat and I travelled to Madison, WI just as she was beginning to be affected by Lewy Body. We had a good time exploring the mineral collection at the University of Wisconsin’s geography building and then “wheelchairing” through the narrow corridors of amazing quilts at the annual Madison Quilt Show. Pat was a quilter and needlepoint stitcher; I was happy that I could help her savor a visual feast at a time when her ability to enjoy life was beginning to diminish. Not incidentally, I too feasted on the array of hundreds of beautifully and creatively fashioned quilts.

          I received an advertisement for this year’s show. I knew I wanted to go, and I knew I wanted to be there with Pat. But I also knew I couldn’t go only with Pat, not unless I wanted to sob my way through.

          Sometimes everything falls into place when you most need it. My friend AnneMarie, the very same person who organized Pat’s ceremony and spoke so beautifully at Pat’s funeral/celebration of life, lives in Madison and is an accomplished quilter. I called her; AnneMarie accepted my invitation to attend the show together. And, as a bonus, I was able to arrange supper the evening before the show with AnneMarie, long-time friend Lisa and her husband Mike, and our former clinic colleague Carla. When we arrived at the restaurant, I noticed that the table was set for six people even though only five of us were physically present. I remembered the Alcoholics Anonymous’ tradition of leaving one chair empty at every meeting for those who couldn’t be there, including those who had died from the disease. I quietly placed Pat in that empty chair.

          I picked up AnneMarie the next morning and off we went. The quilt show was tremendous, better than I remembered. There were hundreds of quilts, each one seemingly more amazing than the last. AnneMarie taught me about metallic threads, trapunto techniques, traditional vs. “art” patterns, hand sewn vs. machine sewn quilting, computerized patterns, etc. I was engrossed. Even so, I found time to speak with Pat several times – and to cry a few times as I envisioned wheeling her to a particular quilt I thought she would have enjoyed.

          I feel grateful now, as I remember and write, that my first two out of town experiences since Pat died have been first to St. Paul with my twin brother Don and then to Madison with my good friends AnneMarie, Lisa, Mike, and Carla. Both times I took Pat along, in my heart and mind, but I wasn’t overwhelmed with the sense of loss that I would have experienced if I had gone by myself.  

          I am sure I will eventually be able to travel alone. Eventually.