Color was meant for the perpetual comfort and delight of the human heart, said John Ruskin. And Georgia O’Keeffe said, “Color is one of the things that make my life worth living.” I agree. I love color and I love to talk about it. I find it every bit as evocative as Proust’s madeleines.
When my brother Robʼs third daughter was born I thought, “This man needs something pink.” The nice woman on the phone at Land’s End assured me that a womanʼs size large extra long turtle neck would fit a slim six-foot man nicely. It was a beautiful shade of pink but did he appreciate it? “I can’t wear this!” Honestly, youʼd think Iʼd asked him to put on high heels and lipstick! What is it about men and pink? If you ask me, next to a tuxedo, thereʼs nothing as flattering to a man as a crisp pink oxford shirt. I once gave my husband a pink shetland sweater and every time he got a compliment on it, and there were many, many times, heʼd say, “Takes a hell of a man to wear this color!” Wouldnʼt they be surprised to know that pink was once the color for baby boys, because itʼs the pastel of red, that most aggressive and belligerent of colors, and gentle blue was for little girls, as it’s the color of the Virgin Mary!
I hope Rob saw the Las Vegas Bull Riders Championships last weekend; they were all wearing pink shirts in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Try calling one of those guys a sissy!
Pink is also the color of mourning for me. My grandmother was sick for a long time before she died. We all knew what was coming--you can see that from my daughter’s entry in her school journal;
We were staying in her guest house, also called the Lodge. Early in the morning on July 9, Jessie’s 7th birthday, we got a call from Breida, MomMom’s lovely nurse.
“Barbara, I know you have a busy day, but could you come over here?”
“Brieda, is everything ok?”
She replied in a quavery voice; “No,” MomMom was gone. I rushed over to say a last good-by. After several hours of phone calls and business I looked at Jessie , our birthday girl, and said, this little girl needs a celebration.
So I drove to town and bought a cake, then went to the party store for balloons. I bought 7 pink and one lavender to grow on and headed out the door. The spiky chandelier in the entry way caught a balloon and POP! I went back, they replaced it for free and I headed out the door again, this time holding my bouquet very low. On the street I passed a woman with a lit cigarette and POP! I went back to the store and this time I paid for the replacement. I headed out again, holding the balloons in a tight cluster. As they rubbed against each other they heated up, the air and helium inside expanded and POP! Just like we learned in fourth grade science class.. The people in the store were definitely not happy to see me. I asked the helium person not to fill them quite so full and she looked at me like I was speaking some strange language.
I finally got the balloons to the car and put them in the back seat. They rose up and completely filled the back window, blocking my view. I backed out of the angle parking space VERY cautiously and tapped an on-coming car ever so gently. A crabby old man got out to inspect his fender and then drove off ignoring my profuse apologies. I wanted to say to him, “Sir, if you only know the day I’m having you’d be grateful that all you have to worry about is a non-existent dent to your stupid car.” I guess it’s a little too much to expect kindness from someone you’ve just dinged. Let’s not dwell on him.
Louise Russell Swanson loved the Bible and Jesus, and she held an unshakable faith in the resurrection. In her circle Death was referred to as “Going Home.” Sojourner Truth said at the end of her life; “I’m not dying--I’m going home like a shooting star!”
I like to think MomMom went home like a burst of pink balloons.