My father refused to wear a shirt with a missing button

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

My mother was a young newlywed. She married my father when she was just eighteen years old.

My father had already been married and divorced by then. His first wife was the opposite of the traditional 1960s housewife, and he vowed that his second wife, my mother, would be the ultimate housewife and cater to his every need and whim.

So one day, when he got dressed and discovered that his work shirt was missing a button, he flew into a rage. "This shirt is missing a button," he exclaimed.

My mother inspected the shirt. "You could wear it anyway," she said. "You don't even use that button. It's way up on top, and you never button your shirt that far up."

But my father refused to wear a shirt with a missing button, and my mother had to fetch him a fresh shirt from the closet, a shirt that had every button in place.

My mother sent my father to work wearing the second shirt and hung the first shirt in the closet to mend later. "It's just one missing button," she said to herself and promptly forgot about the shirt and its missing button.

A few weeks later, my father asked my mother to fetch him a shirt from the closet for work, and she brought him the shirt with the missing button. It wasn't on purpose.

My father was in a hurry. He grabbed the shirt from her hands and put it on without realizing it was missing a button since the button was in a spot he never buttoned anyhow. Somehow, he made it through the entire workday without the precious top button he had complained about last time. He got home from work and tossed the dirty shirt in the laundry hamper without saying a word about the button.

By the time my mother did the laundry, she had forgotten all about the issue with the button. She washed, dried, ironed, and hung the shirt back in the closet without replacing that darned button.

The next time my father ended up with the shirt minus one button, he took out his pocketknife and sliced every remaining button off the shirt, even the tiny buttons on the collar and the tops of the pockets, and the trio of buttons on the cuff of each sleeve.

"You could not replace that one button. Now, you will replace all of them. Next time, pay more attention when you do my laundry," he said.

My mother promptly complained to her mother-in-law, who shared her method of staying on top of her mending.

"When you have a tear in a pair of pants, or you have a missing button on a shirt, put those articles of clothing together in a pile. Then, once a week, sit down with the pile of clothes that need to be mended and fix them all in one sitting. Just pick one day per week to work on your repairs. Then nothing will ever go undone for more than a week."

My grandmother told my mother this method had served her for many decades. According to my mother, it worked for her, too. Ever since adopting her mother-in-law's method for mending clothing, my mother had no more fights with my father over buttons.

Personally, I would have let him wear the shirt with no buttons after his behavior.

Comments / 13

Published by

Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Massachusetts State

More from Tracey Folly

Comments / 0