Learning to Balance

Sometimes bad things things just plain happen, and so it is with the tragic death of my younger brother’s wife. Paul and his children bore their loss so bravely at a memorial in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the next day, at the ancestral cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Following the service, the multi-generational gathering strolled as one through rows of family headstones dating to the 1800s. In the cool of the hanging moss trees, the eldest relatives repeated the colorful stories that perpetuate our memories of the deceased. Interrupting

one another, they debated whether it was a sweet potato or regular spud a cousin had worn under his hat to ward off illness. Their narratives concluded as the last of us passed through the cemetery’s double wrought iron gates. An entrance of such solemnity but a moment before, the gateway was now the exit through which walked a family and the promise of its future.

A trip to Beaufort is never complete without a drive by the home where my father and his siblings were born and raised. As with many humble clapboards in small southern towns, this one experienced several upgrades and renovations. Daddy loved going by the house. Parked across the street, he would point at one window or another and describe the interior as he remembered it. Despite our volunteering to ring the bell and ask the present owner for a walk through, he always shook his head at the offer. His memories of home were more than enough.

Driving further south with my sister and her family, I was the lookout for the roadside peach stand. Nearing the Florida state line and having given up on such a sighting, I saw the sign at a gas station set back on the highway. For genuine Georgia peaches, there is no such thing as too far off the road.
The Peach Boyz were adorable, which certainly worked in their favor, as a bucket was $7.00…not exactly a bargain.

But, lo! Peach Boyz were raising money to assist in their college education costs. And it was our pleasure to help with the effort. Two buckets of peaches and a bucket of tomatoes = a fool is born every second.

A Coke stop down the road required an accompanying snack, of which there is bin upon bin to choose from, especially if one is partial to curly fried thingees. Thank heavens for Lanz peanut butter and cheese crackers!
My sister’s home is on the beach, and from the back deck is this view, perfect for sitting and watching waves and thinking about our brother and his children. No longer as a table with four sturdy legs, it will take them a while to find balance.
I’m home now, and this is the view I’m facing:
Home. It’s where the laundry is and our memories reside.


Tie One On…an apron, of course!

Memories of a Button

I’ve often been asked, if there is a domestic icon other than the apron that serves as a memory trigger. Although I’ve given it lots of thought, I could not come up with one.
The button box posting, however, turned out to be a surprising trigger for many. Given the ten+ years I’ve collected recollections prompted by the apron, I should have anticipated there’d be a response to the button box. After all, both are within our domestic history, and had I thought about it, I would have figured the button box also connects us to earlier generations.
One story I received is so precious, I had to share it with y’all. Tracy Fullington of Georgetown, Kentucky writes:
“You’ve just inspired me to collect my buttons and sift through them like stones. Reading your blog and seeing this bountiful button box makes me so nostalgic…

I remember being just six years old and finding a pearly white two-holed button on the playground one day. She shone with grandeur in my eyes and I pocketed the small treasure. I wondered what stories she would tell me if only I could listen close enough… How did she fall to the lonely ground? Had she popped off a fairy princess’ gown? Oh, the stories Miss Button might hold… Try as I might, my incessant chattering to Miss Button and my classmates unveiled no magical stories. Instead, my chatter landed me, my desk and Miss Button in front of the class and next to my first grade teacher, Mrs. Rich. Instructed to stop talking to my classmates, my only concern was whether I could continue to talk to Miss Button. To my delight, I was allowed to chatter on to Miss Button, who never did reveal her secrets. Oh, to be childlike and innocent enough to lose yourself imagining life through the eyes of a button…”

I asked Tracy if her mother recalled Miss Button, which prompted further recollection:

“I remember the first grade button–you had a little box you kept all the ones you found in. I know I got in trouble with you when I washed your jeans and you thought button was gone. Luckily,it turned up in bottom of washer!! I sure remember you were always intrigued with unusual buttons. Grammy kept her button collection in a canister–you always wanted to dump them out and play with them. That’s how I taught you to count–add and subtract. You always wanted to take the canister to school, but I knew better for you–so it stayed home. Still have the canister of buttons of Grammy’s–now and then I need one to replace one. I also remember where lots she saved came from–my childhood.”

On its own, Tracy’s story is perfect. However, it’s the addition of her mother’s memory of the same incident that creates a collective, generational keepsake. And the school photo of Tracy was scanned by her dad…a true family collaboration.
Storytelling is made all the better when different perspectives can be interwoven. If the women and men of your life are still here, ask the simplest question – Do you remember that time…and prepare to be delighted with the response.
Aprons. Button Boxes. Just ask the question.
Tie One On…an apron, of course!
P.S. Five days left to enter the Sweetie-Pie Giveaway! Click here for details.