Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. Confucius
Stitch by stitch the cover art for my upcoming book Valentine’s Day is taking shape. Hand sewing is such a gift, for the time it gives me to sit with my thoughts and let my mind wander to things I haven’t thought about in a long time, or completely new thoughts. Today I’m thinking of Fran Faulkner, the Button Lady as I like to call her now. Its funny how the people who come in and out of our lives leave footprints on our heart. I’m thinking about Fran as I stitch a magnificently detailed button from her vast and beautiful button collection onto my design. I was fortunate to inherit Fran’s button collection, fortunate is a bit mild for how I feel, because I have a button obsession – so her collection is like gold! The button aisle at the fabric store is one of my favorite places, because unique buttons are the cherry on top when I’m sewing clothes. And now, buttons are in the artwork of all the books in my Celebrate! series. Sewing this button on today I remember the story Fran’s daughter Suzanne shared with me of how when clothing became threadbare, before recycling it for rags, her Mom would clip the buttons and save them – perhaps to find a new home one day. That’s another reason I treasure these buttons, Fran was a recycler in a day when recycling was not talked about much. I like carrying on that work she started.
Reusing and recycling our materials is the most important thing we can do. Nikki Reed
These wonderful buttons are a reminder of Fran every time I use them. She was a Special Education teacher for 25 years, and a great one! It takes really special people to pour their hearts into working with students who need more, or different, from the resourceful problem solving people working as their teachers. Fran raised three children, teachers all, who give back in their jobs much as Fran did. She raised a college professor, a Hospital School teacher, and a Special Education teacher who now shares her amazing gift for understanding the human body, and years of study, teaching Ashtanga Yoga at her studio Ashtanga Yoga Club Durham and providing Alexander Technique to clients. I know Fran is proud of each one. That Special Education teacher, Fran’s daughter Suzanne, was my daughter Lina’s 6th and 7th grade teacher. Its fun to think about all the connections we have with people in this big world of ours and their connections to each other.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Nelson Mandela
Fran didn’t have grandchildren. But that didn’t stop her from giving to young people after retirement. She found plenty of children to ‘Grandmother’ and my daughter was one of the lucky recipients of her Grandmotherly love. Fran would select special picture books to send to Lina and write a personal note in the front of each one. Fran shared her love of teddy bears with Lina and gifted her several stuffed animals over time – one was a sea otter and to this day Lina loves sea otters. Back when Lina was still in school she and I would spend weekends or summers creating art and literacy projects to work on her Reading, Writing, and penmanship in a fun way. These projects usually resulted in a product of some kind that Lina was proud of and would gift to others. One year we made apple prints and wrote apple poems framing them together to send to people – if you are making them for others you need to make several which equals more reading, writing, and penmanship practice happily completed. Fran was always on the list of recipients right after Lina’s Grandparents. Fran would always write a nice letter thanking Lina. (in printing so Lina could read it herself, giving her more reading practice practice.Fran ‘got’ Lina in those kinds of ways. When we visit Fran’s daughter, Suzanne, today there is still an apple print and poem hanging on her wall, as there was for many years on Fran’s wall.
Love is the greatest gift that one generation can leave to another. Richard Garnett
Sitting and stitching I reminisce about the Button Lady. Lina, Suzanne, Hayden, and I visited her in her home in York, Pennsylvania, we toured the Harley Davidson Showroom and factory with her too. Books like Paddle to the Sea will always make me think of her, along with the special letters she wrote to Lina. When you get down to it I didn’t know Fran that deeply or for that many years out of my life, but it didn’t take long for her to take up residence in my heart. Tears come to my eyes today thinking of all those special memories, and what an amazing woman she was! I feel so lucky I had the good fortune to know her. Is there a Button Lady in your life? I’d love to hear your story!
A good life is a collection of happy moments. Denis Waitley
If you look at the illustrations in Halloween Night, Thanksgiving Weekend, or Valentine’s Day (my new book coming out in Dec/Jan) take a minute to notice the buttons and remember Fran, the Button Lady. I always will.
She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and LIVE. Annie Dillard
Light, Love, Laughter,