Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mema's Buttons


Once upon a time there was a little girl. The first grandchild on each side so of course she was very spoiled. But still a very sweet child. She used to love to spend time with her aunt and uncle. Most weekends found her spending the night. Once when she was about 11 or 12 her aunt told her that a time would come soon when she wouldn’t want to spend every weekend with her aunt. And her response was, “Oh No! I’ll ALWAYS want to spend time with you, Auntie.”

Then a few years later her parents got divorced. The Mom remarried – and spent most of her free time in the clubs with her new husband. Her Dad also spent most of his time in the clubs. So the little 14 year old girl had to grow up really fast because she was left taking care of her younger sister and brother and new step-brother all the time at home AND on weekends when her Dad had her. She still spent a lot of time with her Aunt who lived next door but that left her Grandparents who were getting up in years and not in very good health to look after the younger siblings so she still had to help there a lot. So as the aunt predicted there soon came that time when she came over less and less as she wanted to spend more time with her friends and less time having to help with the younger kids.

In her need to escape the life at home that had become intolerable to her she fell in with a bad crowd and started using first alcohol and then drugs. Not to say she was abused or anything at home. She just didn’t have a lot of supervision and too much responsibility for her years. And when one parent or the other would try to make her mind she’d just ping-pong back and forth between them until they eventually just let her do whatever she wanted. She eventually moved in with her grandparents which is probably the only reason she pulled herself together enough to graduate at the top of her class. But soon after that she went off to college and fell deeper and deeper into the drugs and alcohol.

Her grandmother was probably the most calming influence in her life but she was getting old and had a lot of health problems and just wasn’t able any more to give the child the help she needed to clean herself up. And the aunt who loved the child like she was her own had moved away several years before so wasn’t nearby to offer any help either. When the aunt would come back for holidays or just to visit the girl rarely showed up and when she did it was just for an hour at the most. Which really hurt the aunt a lot but still she loved the girl and wished so much that there was something she could do to help. But, you know, you can’t help someone who’s not willing to accept the help so she just kept silent and went back home each time with her heart aching a little bit more for that little lost child.

Not that the girl didn’t try to straighten her life up on her own. Several times she’d drop the drugs and hold down a steady job and try to make a good life for herself. But eventually she’d slip back into those habits and sink back into the black hole her life had become. A few years ago she was doing very good and had managed to clean herself up. She found a good job that she loved and was doing very good for herself. And her aunt was very happy that her little girl was finally growing up and taking responsibility for her life and getting herself cleaned up. Then she had a very bad car wreck and broke her back in several places. She was sent home after a few days in the hospital with a brace a bunch of pain killers. NOT the best thing for a young girl with a history of drug abuse. :-( And she slipped slowly back into that life and lost the job she had been so proud of.

Then her beloved grandmother died the next year and further tilted her world. Her grandmother had loved to sew and had made many dresses for the little girl and her sister when she was growing up. After the funeral she went thru her grandmother’s house and gathered up all her thimbles and put them in a box and took them home with her. And every once in a while she’ll take those thimbles out and just put them on her fingers. And her aunt’s heart just breaks for that little girl who needs her grandmother so much and she’s no longer there for her.

Not long ago the aunt went back for a visit. And the little girl knew she was coming but never showed up which of course hurt the aunt very much. But in her heart she knows it’s not because the little girl doesn’t love her anymore but more because she doesn’t want to face her and admit how screwed up her life has become.

One of the things her aunt wanted to do when she went home was to gather up her mother’s buttons and bring them home with her. Her mom had a thing for buttons and bought them just about every time she went into a fabric store. She’d rummage around in the boxes of markdown buttons and dig until she’d find enough of one kind to put on a shirt or dress. And the aunt got into buying the buttons too and did the same thing. And when they’d get home all the buttons would go into bins sorted by color, the aunt’s and her mom’s all together. And whenever anyone in the family needed a button they’d just dig around until they found what they needed. When the aunt moved away she left all the buttons with her mother because her mom loved them so much.

When her mom died the aunt wasn’t up to going thru the sewing room and gathering anything up. But when she knew she was going to visit recently she decided she wanted to get the buttons and put them by color in glass jars to use as a decoration in her sewing room. Then she heard the story of the little girl and her grandmother’s thimbles. And she still brought the buttons home with her. But instead of putting them in jars where only she would have the memories of them she’s decided she’ll use them to make button dolls for her mother’s three granddaughters and her mothers sister and her sister. And one for herself too. And that way everyone could share in the memories of Memas buttons and have a little something from her to hold onto in those times when they’re missing her so much they can hardly stand it. And with every button threaded and every stitch made will be a prayer that the little girl will one day find peace and the strength to pull herself away from the drugs and live a wonderful, happy life.

24 comments:

Hedgehog said...

Oh, Nancy, my heart broke reading your post, but I'm glad to see that the story hasn't ended.
The buttons are a treasure and you are very generous to share them in such a thoughtful way. I'm not quite sure what a button doll is, but I'm looking forward to seeing them on your blog in the future.

Melzie said...

Big huge mega bloggy hugs. That is a beautiful post and I cant wait to hear the "to be continued" part end happily :) xoxo melzie

Suze said...

Such a thoughtful thing to do for those you care for.........

That can make all the difference.

paula, the_quilter said...

Nancy, it's such a beautiful thing you are doing! /paula

Gail said...

Maybe the aunt would like some of her cyber friends to add Mema's little thimble girl to their prayer lists, too. Adding one 'thimble girl', right after 'Tilman'

Patti said...

Oh Nancy, that's a beautiful caring and sharing thing you are doing. I'm hoping that the process of making the dolls will also be a start of a healing process also. Thinking of your neice has to make your heart hurt so badly - hugs and prayers coming your way and for her also. There is still hope yet. My brother didn't straighten himself out until he was in his 40's, and the judge told him if he appeared in front of him again he'd lock him up for life. The last 20 years of his life he was an exemplary citizen having sworn off the alcohol which was making him act like a monster. And know that all your cyber friends are here for you whenever you need a cyber hug.

Fiona said...

Oh Nancy, such a sad story. I hope the gift of the button doll will mean that your niece makes the effort to get in touch with you. She surely knows how much you care for her.

Tracey said...

My prayers are added as well...and I have a feeling that she'll pull herself out of this once and for all. She's got it in her.

quiltpixie said...

may each button hold a prayer and good wish for every recipient, as well as a fine memory of the collector.

Sweet P said...

Your post is very heart touching and heart wrenching. I will add your niece to my prayers. Thanks for sharing the buttons with others.

Katie said...

From now on when I look at my grandma's button jar, I'll think of your story. Thanks for sharing. I hope there was some healing in your telling it. I bet there was.

Susan H. said...

Baby girl, my heart aches for you. I know you love that little girl as though she were your own daughter and in many ways she is. I miss Mama so much. This has been a week I could have really used her to "Mother" me. I am so glad we have found this means of remembering her and honoring her. I love you.

Pam said...

There is such healing power in the work of our hands...Hugs to Nancy, to Susan and to little girl...thanks for sharing, just saying (typing) the words is a positive step in healing

Little girl is so lucky to have an auntie like you who has not given up on her

Jeanne said...

Love is powerful!
Jeanne

Finn said...

What a lovely and hearttouching story Nancy. One doesn't even need to know who was who to feel the pain, and loss, and sadness all tinted with happiness and joy in places...*VBS*It's so hard and painful to try and deal with such pain and loss, especially as the loved ones leave us forever. Thank you for sharing...I'll hold a thought in my heart for the best possible outcome for all. Hugs, Finn

cher said...

what a touching and enduring post of love....I am with you in keeping the faith that all will come right in the end.

Mama Koch said...

What a story! I want to see what you're going to do with all of those buttons.

Libby said...

What a moving story. You have found a special way to share the love and hope of this story by using the beloved buttons and sending out prayers for the beloved niece.

Rabbit Stitchings said...

What special little button dolls they will be, with all that love in them :O)....

Darlene - Dazed Quilter said...

Oh Nancy! Consider yourself

((((HUGGED))))

Doodlebug Gail said...

(((((HUGS))))) Please do share your button dolls with the rest of us. What a wonderful thing you're doing.

Tazzie said...

Such a touching story Nancy. Please share the button dolls with us when you have the chance. I'm sending huge hugs your way.
*huge hugs*
Tazzie
:-)

Norma said...

My eyes are tearing as I read your post. Please keep us updated and don't forget to share a picture of the button doll when you are finished making one!

KCQuilter said...

I can only echo the others' posts. Such a moving story. Hoping everything will work out.