My mother, like many women of her era, seldom disposed of any garment. When it was no longer suitable for wear, she found use for the fabric. Some pieces were used as rags; some might have been stuffed under a door to keep out the cold; some became quilt pieces. She also cut off the buttons and saved them. My wife Jan spent a great deal of time caring for Mother in her final years. She cherishes the small things Mother left, things valuable only to those who loved her. Jan is a quilter, and she especially loved Mother’s collection of buttons. For Christmas this year, she decided others needed to share this legacy. This is the note she wrote to the women and girls in our immediate family. The button bags were given to Mother’s granddaughters and great-granddaughters.
“Granny” Button Bags
Granny was very frugal, as were most women of her era. As garments would wear out, Granny would cut off the buttons before disposing of the garment, saving them for future use. The buttons on your bag are some that she saved. She would have thought it very special that they were placed on a bag made just for you, her granddaughter, with special keepsakes inside. The recipes, in her handwriting, were in her recipe file box along with greeting cards she had received, receipts for various things, dates she purchased a TV (September 23, 1976), obituaries for family and friends and other important documents.
Such a special lady!
When I looked through those buttons and notes and recipes written in Mother’s distinctive hand, I noticed that she titled her recipes not Key Lime Pie, or Mince Meat Pie, but with the name of the person who gave the recipe to her. Guess she figured the ingredients spoke for themselves. The names brought back sweet memories of some of the most important women in my life. Aunt Hildred, Aunt Jimmie Dee, Pauline Gervers, and many more. I was stunned at the number of truly remarkable women in our rural community—women who helped to raise me. And I do mean remarkable, resilient, kind, loving, strong women.
I wrote and presented eulogies for Mother and Aunt Hildred. Some of the other ladies left instructions for me to be a pallbearer at their funerals. Can there be a greater honor? I made myself a note to write more about them later. A short time before her death, Pauline got a message to me that she wanted one of my books. I was pleased to deliver it. The visit was short, and I don’t think I can properly express how it made me feel. Pauline was the mother of my good friend, not my mother, of course, but as we shared good memories, I felt my mother’s presence. Pauline made me feel loved that day, just like she had when I was a little boy. What a gift.