Story for button 22Button 22



My Grandma was a big fan of jumble sales. She would select wool jumpers to pull down and knit up again as gloves and socks. She would choose cotton to cut up and make patchwork with, anything with good buttons she would take and snip them off to keep in a button jar.

There they would join the others she had saved from every item of clothing that had passed through her possession. It was an old jam jar with a metal lid, thick ridged, screw top, air tight. It was crammed full of buttons, for emergencies, to spice up a dress, too good to throw out on a worn out coat, to remember a special shirt. Buttons from the twins old clothes, George's, her own.

When I went to visit I tipped the buttons out on the kitchen table, sending them clattering, a shimmering wave . I sorted into colour or size. I poured them from hand to hand. Felt them tumble through my fingers, drumming on the formica. I played carelessly and let them drop on the floor. I wasn’t aware of their value at all. They were pretty patterns forming kaleidoscopically to amuse me on the table top.

In the background my Grandma would be busy, up to see to this or that, stoke the fire, wipe the dishes, put the kettle on. She watched me tolerantly twirl all these memories across the table, spinning colours and sending them careering off into corners. She would pick them all up and put them away in the jar when I’d left.

I wasn’t there when she struggled on hands and knees, reaching under the settee to retrieve a small brass clasp or a pearly flower. I did not see her sit and examine the glittering button of a long ago faded skirt. As she held the button carefully between fingers that found the tiny, shiny object fiddly and hard to hold, as she fumbled she recalled the afternoon when she nearly lost this button and blushed.

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