Sunday, February 13, 2011
My Grandmother's Buttons
I recently finished a book by Kathy Cano-Murillo called Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing. The book was great and I enjoyed every part of it, but one thing stood out to me personally was when the main character Scarlett talked about owning a jar of buttons that were once used by her designing idol. It reminded me of my treasured tin of buttons and the life they have led and the places they have gone. I have tin full of buttons that I inherited from my grandmother who unfortunately died when I was 6 years old. She had been sick for most of my life so my relationship with her was basically non-existent and I envy everyone who talks about their Nana because those relationships are one to treasure. But when my mother originally gave me the tin full of buttons I started to understand my grandmother more and did some research about her. These buttons it turned out were in a way the life she had led and were a treasured possessions. My grandmother came from Germany in the last 1800's with my grandfather and he went to work in one factory in downtown St. Louis she went to work with my great aunt as a seamstress in another factory. She worked for 30 years on and off at the factory and in her home sewing, mending and designing even while raising my mother, her only child. She never parted with a pattern, material or it seems a button - ever. The buttons in this tin tell a story of every dress she made, suit she designed and basically a button here or there she just picked up. They were every shape and size and when I took them from my mother the only thought I had was "what am I going to do with all these buttons". Well I figured out about 5 years later when I went into a store a saw that someone designed bracelets from buttons. From there a wonderful friendship was struck up and button bracelets were designed and made. I had bracelets made for my dear friend who is a former Air Force Officer with my grandfather's WWI buttons from his uniform and she was completely moved; something dark and glossy for my sister who is so serious about life; hearts for my daughter in law who loves my oldest son and something funky for my best friend who loves life a little to the left of all the rest of us. I gave them as gifts to special people I care about and hope they treasure them as I did. The best one was the buttons from a dress my grandmother wore that I for some reason had her picture of with the buttons on the dress. I had this made into a bracelet for my mother and it was a special Christmas gift for her to treasure. I still have bracelets left for the daughter in laws I will someday have and hopefully a granddaughter or two. Everyone who has received these has loved the story that went with them and I never mind telling it. I wish I had a picture of my grandmother and me at any point in short time of my life that I knew her but I don't but I do have the tin of buttons that each one has a story in itself. When cleaning my father-in-law's house after he passed away what a surprise to find yet another tin of buttons and me saying "what am I going to do with all these buttons". Well they have filled vases, containers, and just about anything that needs some color and a story of life to tell. Treasures are always a surprise you just have to wait for them to find you.