Monday, February 04, 2008

The Button Jar

My brother and I are six years apart in age - he being the younger. Besides our age difference, we have many other aspects - personality, interests, appearance - that could not be more un-alike if we'd been born into separate families on different continents.

As children, he wanted to be with me and my friends whenever possible. As the big sister, I didn't want him trailing around with me, and I didn't want him playing with my toys - he had a tendency to cause damage to my dolls, or to tell me the "right way" to play with them. My father always said "Tim would be your best friend, if you would just LET him." I couldn't see it. There's a huge difference between a 10 year old and a 4 year old when it comes to play-time and interests.

We also bickered a lot. He teased me mercilessly, and I squawked. He spied on me and my friends, and I squawked. It was endless...our poor mother used to say things like "Why don't you just throw each other down the basement stairs and get it over with?" Of course, that shocked us enough to stop for an hour or so.

There were a few activities in our lives where we did get along. Occasionally, our mother would let us play in what was then a button box. This was a large old tin box, with a floral chintz print painted on top and bottom - navy blue with small flowers. My brother and I would spread a blanket on the living room floor, and sift through the buttons, sometimes playing "bank" or "store" and other times just sorting out our favorites.

When our mother passed away we were charged with dividing everything absolutely evenly between us. There was little or no conflict between us on the division; as a matter of fact, my Oldtimer said he'd never seen anything like it - both my brother and I went so far overboard trying to make certain the other person had things they wanted, to be absolutely fair, you could hear us saying "you take it, no you take it..." for days.

There were only two items in all of our mother's belongings that became issues (and I use the term "issue" lightly). One was the button jar (she had given up the tin in favor of a very old blue canning jar years before), and the other was an ornament Lolo LOVED that she had made of clear plastic medicine cups, dipped in gold glitter and formed into a ball. Neither one of us wanted that blasted medicine cup ball, and tried our best to foist it off on the other. And both of us wanted that button jar. Ultimately, as the "girl" in the family, I prevailed on the button jar - after all, as the "boy" in the family, he got our father's WWII medals.

Later, when discussing the button jar, I found that my brother wanted it because it contained so many happy memories for him of the times we got along, and the times we played together. His comment touched me deeply, and though I still have the jar, it is even more meaningful to me because of his remark.

As to the medicine cup thingy... I won - or so I thought. I simply forgot to take it to my house every time I worked on emptying Lolo's apartment, and ultimately, my brother couldn't leave behind something she loved so dearly. Of course, when Oldtimer & I married, despite the notation on the invitation of "No Gifts Please," my brother showed up with a very large, square, gift-wrapped box. Inside was the medicine ball decoration.


Phyl said...

Did you give brother Tim any of his favorite buttons from the big old jar full?! It looks like a GREAT treasure chest....both of fine old buttons AND wonderful fond memories for both of you.
What a sweet story...

Jacque Uetz said...

Sue, what a heart warming story and I love LOLO's button jar what a keeper..

purplepaint said...

I know exactly what you're talking about with the midicine cup thing my mom has one. Don't you just love buttons? My mom has a button box and said I should get it, of course those buttons I don't think I'd be able to use in my artwork... :) Marva