Thursday, July 23, 2009

Button Boxes & Cookie Bowls

I follow a feature in the St. Paul paper called Bulletin Board. Readers write the column by emailing or calling in their stories. Topics vary but are frequently reminiscent of everyday life.

This week they have been submitting stories about personal items bequeathed to survivors. It started with a column about a mom and dad asking their adult kids to mark the things they wanted from the house when they had died.

Today's story is about a button box. The guy who wrote said he and his brothers wanted grandpa's button box. They had fond memories of playing with it as kids. They remember the round, metal canister with the flowers on the lid. He wanted it when grandpa died. After grandpa died, no one could find the button box. I was more fortunate. I have my mom's button box.

The story echoed my life. When my mom asked me that question, "What do you want?", I said, "Your button box". As k;ids, my sister and I played with the buttons. My depression-era mom never threw away a worn out garment without first salvaging the buttons. She strung matching buttons together with thread. There were lots of white "underwear" buttons from long johns. That is an oddity today. I don't have buttons on any underwear. Most of the buttons she could identify such as a bunch of dull black quarter sized buttons from her mom, Grandma Victoria's, coat. There were brass buttons, glass buttons, abalone shell buttons, wooden painted buttons and some hard rubber buttons. All of these were kept in a round dusty rose colored metal canister with flowers painted on the lid. I believe the canister originally came with some food product in it. Everything was recycled. I reach for it when we lose a button and try to find a close match. Frequently I do find something. There are 100's of old buttons.

In this world where we are now recycling clunkers for the government rebate of $4500, I wonder if anyone is still saving buttons. I know I haven't added to that collection. I have used some of those buttons and can still point out the black buttons from Grandma Victoria's coat.

Today as my son ate breakfast before leaving for work, I asked him what he wanted after I died. He didn't have an answer but I told him to think about it. Years ago I asked that question of daughter Mary. She said she would like the big green mixing bowl. Years ago every kitchen had a set of Pyrex nesting bowls. Each size was a different color and there were four bowlscolored red, blue, yellow or green. Only the big green one survives from our original set that I got with S & H trading stamps the first year we were married. Mary remembers mixing cookie dough in that bowl when she was growing up.

It seems fitting memories I have left would have to do with cookies.

I just took a magic marker and wrote "Bequeath to Mamie" on the bottom of that bowl. Mamie is my pet name for her. It comes from the way her brother Dave pronounced Mary when they were toddlers. I hope that bowl outlasts me and Mamie and Zoe and Roman can mix cookie dough in it too.

I don't think my kids have my emotional attachment to mom's button box. If not, I wouldn't mind having it for an urn for my ashes. That might bring a bit of levity to my memorial service and honor my mom, the ultimate recycler. I think she would approve. I am serious kids.

Readers challenge. Ask your kids what they want as a remembrance and let me know.

No comments: