My grandmother collected buttons. I do not think it was a planned collected. It was really rather random. Still, she had jars and jars of buttons tucked away on her closet shelf. I was instructed not to touch them. It was a rule; never bother your grandmother’s things.
After my grandmother’s death, my mother could not bear to part with the jars. Eventually, when I had grown to a height that allowed me to reach the shelf, I took the button-jars down. At first, I held the cold glass in both hands, one jar after another. I shook each jar lightly; they were full to the brim. The top layer of buttons made a chinky-chink type of noise as they knocked against the lid. It was as if they were tired of being contained, begging me to free them.
Slowly, I opened each jar and then dumped the contents out. The buttons spilled out in a wavy whoosh sound. On the floor were thousands of buttons in all colors and cuts. Some of the buttons were clear and looked like diamonds others were fabric covered. Some of the buttons looked like shells, some were huge, and others so tiny I wondered what type of garment they had once been affixed to. My favorite buttons were the sets. In order to keep the matching sets together forever, my grandmother had run a thread through each buttonhole and then and tied it off.
That was the kind of woman she was smart and frugal – keeping the sets of buttons together eternally.