Wisdom in a “Button Jar”

I want to introduce you to a couple of folk today. No, neither one is in the books, but each had a profound effect on me as a person. Neither were flashy, brash, or loud in any way. As a matter of fact, they’re lives came and went, and the world scarcely took notice. It does that, (the world), fanfare, and accolades are seldom showered on the humble, the quiet, the loving in heart and spirit. No… now-a-days folk look to the loud, the colorful, and oft times obnoxious for inspiration.

A few seconds… that’s all you need, just a few seconds on the “interweb,” or evening news and your heart and mind are assaulted by this new normal. Folk cain’t seem to get enough of it. We want more, we want faster, we want cheaper, we want no limits, we crave excitement, we’re addicted to the rush and we want it “our” way.

That’s why this post is so important. It appears we’ve lost our way, and a great many have forgotten the lessons left to us by our elders. We live in a time when many need a handful of pills to silence the voices at night, followed by another handful of pills to wake those same voices come morning. We’ve forgotten how to stop, be silent, and listen to that “still small voice.”

So dear friends, allow me to introduce you to Otha and Naomi Henry, I think you’re gonna like em.

Otha and Naomi were known to family and friends as Dadaw and Mamaw. They lived in a humble farmhouse that, to the best of my knowledge, he had built by his own hand in Townsend Tn. That home saw several children and for the most part they mirrored the same strength of character and wisdom of they’re parents.

Otha married the love of his life and from the beginning they were inseparable. I came to know them late in they’re life, Naomi was bed-ridden at this point. But every Sunday family would gather in her bedroom, there they would find her wrapped in home-made quilts and sitting up against the headboard with a broad smile on her face.

Otha tended to her every need with joy, time (as time does) may have been unkind to their bodies, but the spirit…well that was still bright as ever. The Lord finally saw fit to call Naomi home, and suddenly Otha was left without his “help me” as old folk call them.

But he still found a way to care for his dear wife. You see, every day he rose early and drove to the cemetery, there with nothing but a simple shovel he began to rebuild the stone wall that protected her resting place. To him, it was simply “the right thing to do.”

I pulled into his drive one day and found him sitting in a lawn chair beside a stump. On that stump sat an old cobalt blue button jar. He had poured the buttons out into a pile and was sorting through them. His white hair and neatly trimmed white beard hovered over the stump in deep concentration. I watched for a second or two as his finger slowly separated the buttons into groups known only to himself.

“What-cha doin’ Othie” I asked. He was quiet for a moment; his reply was profound. Oh…talkin’ to Naomi, he said. Those four words spoke volumes then, and they speak volumes now. He knew there was comfort to be found in the solitude, that’s where she waited for him. That’s where they talked and shared memories. I came to realize the need to stop, just stop for awhile and “talk” to those we love, past and present. The wisdom of the ages lies hidden in quiet contemplation. I visit that summer Sunday often in my dreams, he’s still there, sitting next to that old stump, talking to his beloved Naomi.

He finally finished that stone wall. Funny thing, it wasn’t long after he laid his shovel down, the Lord called him home to be with his beloved Naomi. Such a wonderful ending to such a wonderful romance. Why cain’t we find that same peace now a days? I’m sure I’m not smart enough to have the answer to that. But I do know this…it’s not the loud, obnoxious, over the top things that make a difference in our world. Most times it’s the small, the quiet, the humble acts that shake the ground and leave a lasting legacy. I know it did for me. Think about that for awhile and share this story, I’m sure there is someone in your life that needs it about now.

One last note…I’m not sure where that button jar is today, I’m certain some family member has it. I hope they know it’s significance, and I hope they have it sitting in a place of prominence. I sure wish I had it, I might just play with the buttons and talk to an old white haired man by the name of Otha Henry.  

Published by The Tin Cup Clan

Mike had never considered himself an author until in his fifties an advanced cancer diagnosis for him to worry about the legacy he would leave for his children and grandchildren. Once the treatments began he needless to say, found himself with plenty of time to put pen to paper. The result was a culmination of stories soon to be named The Tin Cup Clan. A simpler time but not necessarily the greatest of times. The story of a group of young boys trying to survive the harsh reality of coal country, poverty, and just simply growing up. Along the way friendships are formed, old town mysteries are solved, and lessons are learned that will last a life time.

2 thoughts on “Wisdom in a “Button Jar”

    1. I am honored…coming from someone who writes as beautifully as you do I take it as an extreme complement.

      Like

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