D. E. Larsen, DVM
When I first started practice in Enumclaw, Joyce was a frequent visitor at the clinic. She was an attractive young lady who was a client but usually just visited with the girls in the office. When I had free time, she always seemed to want to talk with me about a whole range of topics.
“Doc, I have a problem, and I am at a loss to know what to do,” Joyce said.
“I’m not much good at advice for young ladies,” I said.
“Oh, it is not anything personal,” Joyce said. “The church has a big bazaar every summer. I mean, it is probably the main fund raising event of the year for the congregation. This year, I volunteered to run the quilt contest.”
“So that sounds good,” I said. “What can be the problem with that?”
“You don’t know Quilters,” Joyce said. “This is a big contest, and it is deadly serious with these ladies. The problem is every year, they give the winner of the contest a quilt that is made by the winner of the previous year’s contest.”
“I haven’t seen a problem yet,” I said.
“The problem is that last year’s winner died,” Joyce said with tears welling up in her eyes.
“So, can you get her family to donate a quilt from her collection?” I asked. “Most of these gals have a bunch of them.”
“I thought about that, but her husband died a couple of years earlier,” Joyce said. “The kids cleaned out the house and sold it. They don’t live around here, so that is not an option.”
“I would suggest that you beat the bushes,” I said. “There must be a couple of ladies in the church who would love to make the prize quilt. Or maybe you could make it.”
“Well, trying to find someone or a group of ladies to make it might be an option,” Joyce said. “For me to make it is not an option. I don’t sew.”
That was the last I heard about Joyce’s dilemma for several weeks. I hardly remembered the conversation when she visited the clinic on a Wednesday afternoon. It was a slow day, and I was resting on the couch in the back of the clinic.
“Doc, I am really between a rock and a hard place now,” Joyce said as she sat down beside me. “I can’t find anyone willing to make the prize quilt, and now the time is probably too short for anyone to get one completed before the bazaar. I just am at a loss as to what to do.”
“Go to the mall in South Center and buy the best looking quilt you can find,” I suggested. “Just don’t tell anyone, take the tags off, and they will be pleased.”
“Do you think I would get away with that sort of a thing,” Joyce said.
“Sure, a quilt is a quilt,” I said. “They probably have some handmade quilts for sale. It might cost you a little, but just figure you are buying your way out of a problem.”
“I might have to take your advice,” Joyce said. “But, I am not sure you understand how these ladies think about their quilting.”
Again it was a few weeks since I had visited with Joyce. I did notice a big banner as I passed the church on the way to the clinic.
“This must be the week of the bazaar and Joyce’s quilt show,” I thought to myself.
Then on Saturday, I was on emergency duty. I pulled into the clinic parking lot to take care of a couple of patients in the clinic for the weekend. Joyce pulled into the lot beside me.
“Doc, now I have a major problem,” Joyce said.
“You didn’t get a quilt?” I guessed.
“No, I took your advice,” Joyce said. “I went to South Center and shopped through all the stores. I found a beautiful quilt that was hand made in the Philippines. It actually didn’t have any tags sewn into it, and I could afford to buy it.”
“Here we are again,” I said. “I don’t see your problem.”
“So I took it into the church last night when they were judging all the quilt entries. I just left it on the shelf reserved for it. The ladies doing the judging marveled over it. After I left, they decided that they would enter that quilt into the contest.”
“Where is the problem?” I said.
“The problem is the quilt that I purchased for the prize, won the contest,” Joyce said. “Now, what am I going to do tonight when they have their presentation.”
“Joyce, there comes a time when silence becomes golden,” I said. “You don’t want to say anything. Just say that the prize quilt can’t be the winner. But the fact that it is the winner makes it a better prize. Whatever you do, do not tell anyone that you purchased that quilt. I have a Top Secret security clearance, I know how to take a secret to the grave. Now you have to do just that, you have to take this secret to the grave with you.”
“But I feel so dishonest,” Joyce said.
“You said it was handmade,” I said. “The fact that the little old lady who made it lived in the Philippines doesn’t change that fact. She could have been your sister’s mother-in-law.”
“Doc, you seem to make things sound so simple,” Joyce said.
“And another bit of Army advice I can give you, next year when it comes time to volunteer, you want to be busy,” I said.