We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Reflections From a Button Box

Last week, my dad noticed one of his shirt buttons missing, one belonging to his button-down collar. "I dug around and found Mom's button jar," he told me. "And I think I found two that match pretty well."

Dear Dad. Nine months ago now, Mom slipped into a better world, leaving behind her husband of over 56 years. She'd be proud of him. When I go over to the house, I notice that he's kept up their cleaning routine along with all the other housekeeping chores they did together. He's learning to cook a little, and he even irons his shirts. Thus, the missing button discovery.

The next day, when he came for dinner, he brought his shirt and two buttons. My button box did not reveal anything better, but as I threaded a needle my mind flooded with memories.

"Do you know where this tin box came from?" I asked Dad. The next few minutes found us chatting about our next door neighbor, a dear sweet lady who always spoke a kind word. She'd given my sister and I Peanut Butter Puffs for Christmas one year - and I kept the tin. A perfect place to collect buttons. Then I shared this story:

During sixth grade
when the bus stopped at the corner for the first time
and locker-lined hallways stretched on like railroad tracks
and first period swimming lessons became mandatory . . .

During sixth grade
when boys and girls found themselves caught between
sunny days of kickball and clouded contests of relationship and SATs,
when girls went back and forth between sneakers and high heels . . .
Mr. Heaton taught science.

It seemed a day like any other
except he tore a piece of paper into square bits
and sprinkled them like white confetti on the floor.
"So the cleaning lady has something to do."

As my eyes followed the last of the fluttering cascade,
I thought of the only cleaning lady I knew, the lady who lived next door.
With snowy hair, too-thick glasses, and a smile
that warmed you like hot cocoa on a chilly day,
she walked to the neighborhood elementary school every afternoon.
Mom said she worked hard.

During sixth grade, 
a shadow fell.
I took off my sneakers. 

"I'll never forget that day," I told my dad. "I guess part of growing up is realizing that people don't always live up to our expectations. Even people who are supposed to be role models."

I finished the sewing job, then added, "Every time I get out my button box, I think of Mrs. B. and that day in my sixth grade science class."

Expectations. They're tricky, I think. Shouldn't we have some expectations, especially of people in responsible positions? Yet, we're all human . . . very human. We often find ourselves disappointed in each other - and even in ourselves. Would you agree?

Perhaps the writer of Psalm 62 grappled with expectations when he wrote, "My soul, wait only upon God . . . for my hope and expectation are from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my Defense and my Fortress, I shall not be moved" (verses 5, 6, The Amplified Bible).  

Reflections from a button box . . . What comes to your mind when you think of expectations?


  1. Beautiful, Sarah. When we hope in God we are not disappointed.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. Sometimes it takes us a while to learn that lesson. Grateful for His patience as He offers hope to us!

  2. This stirs up all kinds of childhood memories, especially those that jolted me to a whole new understanding of people and of life.

    1. Thank you, Sherry. Who ever said growing up was easy?!