Like me (or rather I, like her), Mom’s favorite color was red. From the tomatoes she canned, to the handbags she carried, to the bright autumn hues that she loved best, the color red wound its way through all of her life.
When Dad built a large kitchen onto the side of our house to accommodate the needs of their growing family, Mom chose red for the color scheme. The floor was linoleum, in a pattern of black, red and gray. The counter tops were red bordered with crisp chrome edging. The cupboards were painted pale gray (I was surprised to learn they weren’t white!) and trimmed with deep red enamel.
For most of my childhood, the family car was a red station wagon. When one needed to be retired, it would be replaced with another, almost identical. Though Mom didn’t drive, Dad chose red for her.
For church-going, Mom had a red felt hat. It sat a little off to the side on her head, and had a little bit of matching red netting that could be pulled down in front. Mom had a pair of red high heeled shoes, though I don’t remember her wearing them. Before I grew up, Mom had eschewed most of her heels for more practical, comfortable shoes.
Red roses were Mom’s favorite. The smell of rose still makes me think of her! As children, we’d often call Perkin’s Flower Shop in time for Mom’s birthday, and have a dozen red roses delivered for her. “Would you like that put on the account?” they’d ask, and we’d happily answer, “Yes!” I wonder how many bouquets Mom had to factor into her budget over the years. She never let on, and never complained.
As a young woman, my mother liked lipstick. Not every day, but for church, or any occasion that warranted “dressing up.” She favored bright, intense hues like the movie stars wore. Mom’s smile was one of her best features, and she played it to its best advantage. With her large blue eyes and her wavy, black hair, she could pull it off, too. Those crimson shades looked good on her!
As she got older and her hair went to white, Mom toned down her color choices. Pinks replaced the deeper tones in clothing, accessories and lipstick. It was a good choice; red might have been too strong for her softer features. Still, red is the color I most often associate with her.