Read The Quilt Online

Authors: T. Davis Bunn

Tags: #Patchwork, #Quilts & Quilting, #Crafts & Hobbies

The Quilt (8 page)

BOOK: The Quilt
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Finally, Mary turned to look over the friends and family gathered there in her room. She held them there for a moment, returning their smiles and shining eyes with a gaze that seemed to reach deep inside.

With visible effort Mary raised her head up and said with
surprising strength, “Now all of you go out there and finish what you've started.”

Despite the fact that she was close to being scared out of her wits, Jody went up to the altar alone the morning of Mary's funeral. Lou Ann helped her work out what she was going to say, but there was no way Lou Ann could leave Everett alone just then, especially not at the funeral. Jonas had just plain turned and walked away. When Jody pressed him all he said was, the last time you got me to stand up in front of other people was at our wedding. I don't aim on making a fool of myself twice in one life. Lynn said she'd go up there with her, but she kind of felt in her heart like it was something Jody needed to do alone. Jody was held back from pressing her best friend by the fact that she felt in her heart that Lynn was right.

The church was filled to capacity that morning, was how Reverend Louis put it. The back and side doors were all open to the early summer sun, but any breeze that might have been there to cool off the flock was blocked by the crowd pushing for room to see. Those who got there early enough had a place in the pews and busied themselves fanning up meager puffs of air with hats and programs and prayer book bindings.

The others crowded in a semicircle around the outer walls, content to lean and shift their weight and perch their children up on the windowsills. The only people who weren't crowded were those in the front two rows and the choir. The choir suffered as all choirs do in stuffy summer churches, be-robed and chafing and hoping their sweat didn't drip on the hymnals. Those in the front two rows would have simply given the world to be anywhere but where they were.

Reverend Louis led the congregation through a hymn and a prayer and a short talk about a woman everybody knew, and all the while gave the little white terry-cloth towel he carried in his pocket a real good work out. He thought of something
he'd have to share with his wife once it was all over, which was that one could have found more breathing space in an unopened can of sardines than there in that church.

By the time Jody got up, the church was one big fidget. A basket full of week-old puppies would have been calmer. She had a time finding the place in her Bible, what with the perspiration in her eyes and the clammy feeling that left her fingers clumsy. To keep the trembling from showing, Jody slid one finger on the page and grabbed that hand with the other and squeezed. She looked up at the crowd and tried to speak above the fretful babies and the rustling fans and the quiet noise that a crowd makes when it's ready to get up and out but is too polite to say so.

“I know it's gonna sound a little crazy to read a passage of thanks at Momma's funeral,” Jody began, and found herself getting all choked up. It was kind of strange, because she hadn't really felt that much grief during the past twenty-four hours. The day before yesterday had been touch and go, but yesterday hadn't been too bad. There'd been one moment in the bathroom last night when she was afraid she was going to drop her youngest, she'd started crying so hard. And that had scared the poor little one so bad she'd been forced to get control over herself. After that she'd been pretty much okay until she was in bed with Jonas, and then the good man had had to rock her to sleep like a little girl.

Jody swallowed real hard and made her eyelids flutter and pinched her hand real good, and fought back the burning behind her eyes. She went on, “But all of us who knew Momma knew she would never want anything else.

“This passage comes from Philippians, chapter four, verses four through seven:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Jody raised her eyes from the Book and saw that the church had settled. Her own nervousness was lessening, the pressure in her throat totally gone. “There's a lot I could say about the mother of my husband,” Jody began. “The lady the world knows as Miss Mary, and who became as close to me as my own mother. But it would just be repeating what you already know. So I'll say what Momma would want me to say, and that is to give thanks to the Lord your God every day. She taught me a lot, more than I could ever say to anybody, but this last lesson of hers is the one I'll fight hardest to keep. It truly is the way to knowing the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Everybody who came to Mary's little house on the hill after the service stopped by to tell Jody how well she did. It wasn't just nice, someone said, it was like something I'd expect to have Mary say. Wise and sweet and short, somebody else told her, just the thing that Mary would want said. You've given me something to carry with me for a long time, another friend said, one last little gift from Mary.

Lynn came up as she was refilling the punch bowl and said, “Better watch out, honey, there's a delegation in the corner over there ready to put you up for Mary's place.”

Now that it was over, the hole was back in Jody's heart. She struggled to make a smile, said, “They've got to be scraping the bottom of the barrel, then.”

“I don't know,” Lynn said, wearing the same smile she'd had since the service. “It really was a little like Miss Mary, the way you stood up there and talked from the heart.”

Jody decided it was time to change the subject. She pointed with her chin toward the quilt stand, said, “Just look at that, will you.”

The back wall of Mary's sitting room was hidden by the upright quilt frame. It
dominated
the room, drawing every eye toward it as soon as the outer door was opened.

It was as though the reason for the gathering had to be put aside until the newcomer had gotten up close to the quilt, touched it, admired it, talked to a couple of neighbors about it, gotten lost for a moment in the beauty of the design. Every lag in the conversation was filled with a comment about the quilt.

“It's hard to believe I ever worked on anything that pretty,” Lynn agreed.

“I wish there was some way you could see the prayers we sewed into it,” Jody said, mostly to herself.

Lynn looked around the room, saw the sadness leave faces as they looked back to the quilt. She turned toward the back wall, saw her neighbors wipe away tears and smile as they reached out and touched the circular flowers.

She patted Jody's arm, said, “Maybe you can.”

      Books by Davis Bunn     

The Book of Hours
The Great Divide
Winner Take All
The Lazarus Trap
Elixir
Imposter

Lion of Babylon
All Through the Night
My Soul to Keep

A
CTS OF
F
AITH
*
The Centurion's Wife • The Hidden Flame
The Damascus Way

S
ONG OF
A
CADIA
*
The Meeting Place • The Sacred Shore
The Birthright • The Distant Beacon
The Beloved Land

H
EIRS OF
A
CADIA
†
The Solitary Envoy • The Innocent Libertine
The Noble Fugitive • The Night Angel
Falconer's Quest

*with Janette Oke     †with Isabella Bunn

BOOK: The Quilt
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