We're Celebrating Buttons
by Tracy Ruckman and Special Guest Fay Lamb
(originally published here)
I love trivia so when I saw that today was Button Day, I had to celebrate! With two special blog posts, too: the one here, and this one, which tells about the button patterns I designed that were inspired by this whole conversation.
Because of my friend Fay Lamb's button collection and the story of how it came to be. (Warning: if there's ever a salt-and-pepper-shaker day, Fay will be my first interview! I hear rumors she has a vast collection!)
Fay, when we were last together, you had discovered a few buttons (few being relative?) Tell us about those buttons. How did you come in possession of them?
A few? That's an understatement. I found enough buttons to fill five jars completely full. They just happen to be old zinc lid "Ball" jars, too.
My mother-in-law was a master seamstress and a quilter. When she fell ill in Florida, I went to her vacation home in North Carolina, where she had practically lived.
My plan was to clean the place because we knew we weren't going to be able to be there much. That's when you graciously came to help me sort through things. Even before that cleaning, we realized that my dear mother-in-law was beyond the capability of sewing or even crafting any longer, and I made the hard decision to get rid of all of her fabric, her tools, everything, and give them to charities ...
But then I found the buttons. And more buttons. I began putting them into jars. The journey of finding all the buttons I could kept me going. I even discovered buttons that her grandmother had saved and had written on what they had been used to make (in the 1800s).
As I discovered each button, I discovered a connection to my mother-in-law. As the materials began to disappear from the house, I realized I'd begun the process of grieving because with Alzheimer's the individual is gone long before they leave this place.
The night before you came to help, I remember opening up a drawer I thought I'd gone through. I found it filled with craft materials, material, buttons, and a plethora of other items. I wanted to give up, but the quest for buttons kept me going. At the bottom of that drawer, I didn't find buttons. I found one special gift from God, and my desire to collect the buttons led right to it.
I'm a tatter--a maker of lace--and in the very bottom of the last drawer, I found a tatted collar. My mother-in-law never tatted, but I had discovered the art while attending a craft show with her. I understood without a doubt that the collar had been meant for me--a gift forgotten. I sank to the floor clutching that gift and crying for all my memories that were no longer shared with this dear woman.
I also found healing, and I continue to find that healing when I look at the jars filled with unique buttons.
What's the significance of the buttons in your own life?
One of the joys of my childhood was my mother's button jar. She didn't sew, but my grandmother had sown out of necessity. She had seven children to clothe. I can still smell the musty smell of aged buttons. Somewhere in my mother's moves, the jar was lost, so when I found the numerous buttons in my mother-in-law's home, I began to think of them as a special gift to me, a way to remember her even while she was losing her memory of me and a way to replace the forgotten memories of my childhood.
What are your future plans for the buttons?
Right now, they sit in their antique jars on my dresser. I eventually plan to move them into six jars and share the memory with my six grandchildren as I gift them each with one, not only as a way to remember my husband's mother but also to link them to a special memory of my mother and my grandmother.
I know these buttons tie into one of your books, too. How did that happen?
Well before I found my mother-in-law's buttons, I mourned the loss of my mother's button jar. When I wrote my novel, Stalking Willow, one of the most important characters in the novel was Willow's grandmother who was deceased. Her grandmother had been a lot like my Grandmother New, and many things included in that novel are a wink at my many cousins who would realize where I came by them.
Willow discovers a similar button jar and sits down and pulls out her memories of her grandmother. Something else is in the jar, but I'll let readers discover that poignant portion of the story in the book.
I delve into detail about Stalking Willow and the importance of the button jar in my post on Inner Source.
Thanks so much for sharing about your buttons, Fay. We had fun during that visit, didn't we?
Visit Fay's Amazon Author Page to check out all her books! (Hint: They make AWESOME gifts for the readers in your family!)
You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and BookBub! Sign up for her newsletter to receive advance notice of her latest antics.
Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ heart. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.
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