Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Buttoned Up Memories

'Wow!' I thought as I stared at two opened plastic storage containers sitting on the bed in front of me. Where did all these come from? My fingers trailed through the blue, pink, and yellow buttons as my brain scrambled to remember buying them all. Then I realized - I hadn't. Most of these were passed down to me almost six years ago when my mother-in-law passed away.

The years since that day were filled with our three children in their early twenties moving out and then home and then out and home again as college and jobs shifted their lives. Sometimes, we had one child at home and other times two but with each return they had a larger load of belongings that accompanied them. Our possessions were shoved to one location then another as we made room for theirs and after a while we had no idea where our things were buried. With our tools in hiding, many of our past-times were set aside and, so it was, with much of the sewing and knitting I'd once done. But, two months ago our son moved out, we became empty-nesters, and our belongings began to surface. With them came my desire to sew something besides baby quilts and I longed to use my knitting machine for sweaters.

As I pulled the two boxes down to put away my button purchases from Shuttles Spindles & Skeins, I discovered intermingled amongst mine were my mother-in-law's buttons. Hidden under the lids were memories and they flooded my thoughts.

So...So what? Sew buttons on your underwear, popped into my head and I laughed as in my mind, her voice recited the silly saying. Had she still been alive she would have just celebrated her birthday and at this moment, I missed her desperately. Her voice continued, Thirty days half septober, octember, and nomember, the rest have peanut brittle except for my grandma who has a little red wagon., and I imagined her cuddling not our children, but her three little great granddaughters she never had the chance to meet, while they begged her to tell them another bit of nonsense.

My thoughts strayed to my own grandmother and her button tin. She never could figure out why her grandchildren loved to sift through its contents. But, encased in its round metal walls were treasures from another era, an anchor perched on one button; while sparkling black beads bejeweled another; a few had scenes painted on them; and some were in the shape of a rose or an animal; still others were brightly colored with metal accents. As we, grandchildren, looked at them it was fun to guess what apparel they must have fastened together, blouses, suits, or dresses.

The buttons that lay before me were bland in comparison, just a plain color and I was glad for the metal buttons I'd just bought that were embellished with a swan, a leaf, pine cones, and a daisy. Still, I longed for my grandma's button tin to dump in on the floor again and examine its contents. I wondered, would it be as intriguing now as it was then and someday, would my own granddaughters want to go through my button boxes?

I didn't want to leave the warmth of the memories so, I continued to sit on my bed and sort the buttons into sets. Then, string them onto a heavy thread, tying them off into a ring so when I needed them, I'd know just how many buttons their were in each style. The single odd balls, I just couldn't bring myself to throw away for perhaps, my granddaughters may wish to string them on a heavy thread and make a necklace when they are older.

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