When I was
When I was a little girl
My mother sewed
On an old tall table
Made of faux wood
Whose surface was smooth and cold.
I was more aquatinted with the legs of the table
As I sat under it
Watching my mother's tiny
Working the pedal
Like a rythmic dance
To a familiar song
I traced the ornate metal decorative design
On the real wood leg of the table
With my tiny finger
As my mother handed
Me the prize.
I lay on my kid belly
With the button jar before me
Eagerly awaiting my mother to unscrew the lid for me
This was the big button jar
An old pickle jar
Filled up with an assortment
Of any type of button ever made
It was a treasure hunt to me
My mother, probably to keep me occupied, would ask me to find her some "small round blue ones", or "yellow flower ones", or "red rubies".
I never ever tired of this. She made me feel a part of each garment she created.
Most were dresses for me. For birthdays or Easter Church or family Thanksgivings.
Other smaller button jars were made using Gerber baby food jars. These held only specific styles of buttons. Like my favorites, the pill sized rounded ones that had a sheen as I turned them back and forth in the bright yellow sunlight that shone through the chiffon white curtains mom had also sewn.
As I lay on the soft thick avocado green shag carpet, I sniffed the button jars. I cannot tell you what they smelled like. There is no comparable scent to date. But it was very pleasant to me and I'd give anything to smell it once again. Much like the colorful spools of thread in the sewing box, they carried a familial scent. Especially my Abuelita's, those smelled of garlic. Delectable reminders of the Cuban cuisine she cooked for us all her life. Some of my mother's smelled like this too as they often did sewing projects together and shared threads.
I often wonder why I never learned to sew with my mother. But times were different as I grew up and I did not need to sew my own clothes, so the lessons were not important.
I wish I had learned, and took the time to sew with my mother, or learned to crochet, or paint or cook. All of these things I watched her do as a child in the 70's.
I wish I had a button jar to smell to remind me of how it felt to simply be in a room with another person who loves me. To be doing something together, yet differently.
A few years back I bought an embroidery kit. My mother used to do that too, lots of pillows all over the house with owls (her favorite animal), or other birds (mine).
I had the intention of bringing my kit over to her house to learn from her, but in today's busy world, there was always something else more pressing to do than sit quietly and just be together.
I'd give anything to be able to sit with her right now, but the world has made it impossible.
I relegate myself to jotting down my memories and sniffing my own spools of thread for one that smells like family, but alas, I never learned to cook either.
I did learn to be grateful for these moments, a lesson that serves me well in these times.
For my Abuelita and my Mami.
Thank you for the wonderful memories, and the button jar.