African Button Story
by Billie Rudd
I was nervous about the 50 buttons I had ordered from Shirley. After all, she was a hard act to follow. I was not the creator of these buttons and did not have the passion Shirley had. Nevertheless, I packed them in my suitcase and off they went with me to Tanzania, Africa. I timidly gave out a few before I reached my destination. One was given to a man from Amsterdam while we visited on the plane . He was kind and acted interested but I do not believe he was aware of the magic the button holds. I know I was not. I gave one to a couple who was on their way to a place I can't even remember now. They also were unaware, as I, of the power and beauty of the button.
hauled the buttons from place to place, waiting for the right time, until I grew
weary almost of their cumbersomeness . They seemed always in the way, as a small
child who demands attention. Finally the time came.
It was our parting dinner, two nights before we were to leave this exotic
land. There were 23 of us, bonded as only traveling together, every day can bond
strangers. We are sad to be parting but at the same time ready to return home,
each of us going our separate ways and looking forward to our homecoming. We
were from England, Canada and the Unites States. We were married, widowed,
single. We were all young at heart and we loved to travel.
And then the magic began.
The hostess, a beautiful black woman came up to me and asked if she could have a button. I felt immediate regret that I had not given her one before. She said she loved it and returned to her work. Soon, the servers began coming to me asking for the buttons. Each one excited and smiling. Before long, all my buttons were gone. We finished our meal and as we were leaving, our server came up behind us with a make shift drum. We were all in a line, he at the end, and he began singing, "We are Fam-i-ly". As we serpentined through the dining room , people we did not know joined in the song. All were smiling and we were totally caught up in this parade. I thought our drummer would walk us to the door and then stop but no! He continued as we walked out on the patio and then left us as we each separated to go to our rooms. We all had tears in our eyes and we were filled with this very magical moment in time, in a far away land.. in Zanzibar.
The next morning as I went down to the desk to check out, I was greeted with buttons being worn by everyone! it was wonderful! All the travelers had their buttons on either their person or their bags. The hotel personnel had them on too. The feeling of love and oneness was everywhere like the rays of sunrise spreading over the land. We were one family!
Thank you Shirley for your gift of a simple button that has a life of its own and that touches each of ours. Thank you for a time I will never forget. Your buttons are spreading all over the world and I know they will change peoples lives and contribute to the peace of this world. How about fifty more?!
Shirley Catanzaro - firstname.lastname@example.org