I am sitting at my writing desk fumbling with an aqua-colored button given to me by a thin, aged woman I met one winter day on my way to Chicago several years ago. We were sitting side-by-side on a United 737 airplane when I saw the button fall from her hand knit sweater into her lap. She hadn’t noticed it and when she crossed her legs it fell to the floor. I patted the floor to retrieve the tiny bit of plastic and placed in to her trembling hand. I complimented her on her sweater, as I had never seen such a delicate weave or color before. One thing led to another and soon we were chatting about how the sweater came to be.
Her name was Yvette Bonet. She shared with me that the sweater was almost seventy-years-old, passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. She had owned it since she was sixteen, a gift passed to her on that special birthday. The wool was angora, imported from France and dyed the pale aqua by a clothier in Paris. My eyes ran over the covering again, seeking ordinary pilling to a small hole that might give away the garment’s age, but their was none to be found. The buttons I thought were plastic, were actually dyed bone, craftsman carved and held in place by strings made of leather.
I watched her as she wove the leather of that missing button through her fingers and listened as she told me about her journey from France to the United States wearing that very sweater. Her eyes teared as she talked about leaving her beloved country, knowing again she would never see the grandmother she had come to love.
I shared the fact that the color of the buttons reminded me of a favorite aunt’s kitchen table. As we spoke, I found myself closing my eyes and swore I could still smell the six-inch high, fresh rolls that seemed to emerge from my aunt’s kitchen any time a neighbor or friend arrived. I knew the warm butter mixed with homemade jam would drop from my lips at any moment. In that short journey, this stranger and I shared vivid memories of the bright moments the color of those tiny buttons evoked.
As we hugged each other goodbye, she placed the tiny bone button in my hand. “You gave me back the memories I thought were lost. Remember me with this,” she said as we parted. “I have no children to pass this on to, but you will remember me, won’t you?”
God is so faithful in the way he has given me out-of-the-blue recollections of so many people I have travelled with over the years. Yes, Miss Bonet, I do remember you.
I push back my office chair and smile at this tiny aqua-colored button that rolls in my hand. It is a good memory.