While going through some old pictures I detected a pattern. The first half century of life I was under some kind of a hypnotic spell. Nothing dangerous or scary but subtly swayed and persuaded. My life was impacted by my first true love. Mom. And a certain color she loved.
I don’t think mom understood exactly how influential she was. I would bet she was influenced by her Dutch heritage and being raised by both sets of grandparents (her mom died when she was 2 weeks old) except for this one color which somehow muscled it’s way deep in all facets of my life. It’s just a color! Ha! After I started noticing how much this color’s been in my life I have to laugh about it.
Mom wasn’t crazy about wearing a dress or heels so when the ‘pantsuit’ became the rage, she accepted and embraced that style for the rest of her life. But she preferred dark, solid colored slacks, a fancy blouse, usually with a large bow at her neckline and a jacket that fell past her hips. (She thought her hips were big-they absolutely were not). She didn’t accessorize much, not wearing much jewelry, never nail polish but always wore pretty lipstick. And a nice pair of flats.
The color mom was hung-ho about throughout her life and much of mine was orange. I knew she liked orange and yellow just didn’t know how much her fondness of that color spilled over into mine.
When we moved to 15th street in 1955 (I was 4) the kitchen had a sink but no cupboards so dad’s first priority was making that room functional. The kitchen had 3 doorways, thus the only cupboards were on the west wall with a double sink in the middle below the lone kitchen window. Dad built the cupboards. Nothing custom, maybe even a bit primitive, might have used plywood. No Formica graced that short wall either. Our countertops and backsplash were glued down linoleum that looked like beige/gold rocks. I never gave that quirky oddity a second thought and assumed everyone’s kitchen looked like ours. Of course the cupboards were painted orange.
Dad enclosed our front porch so when Iowa’s ‘hot August nights’ (sing it Neil) cooled down to 80 we could sleep out there and catch a breeze (no air conditioner). Mom bought this couch/futon where the back could lay flat making almost a full size bed, although it was covered in Naugahyde which made anyone trying to sleep sweat through the sheet. The Naugahyde was orange.
After mom took knitting classes (proficient enough to teach classes soon after) I became her most used model of her works of art. In the mid 60’s when hot pants became popular, wanna guess what color my mini-skirt of wool worsted yarn was? Yup, orange.
After Hubs and I eloped we bought a floral couch and chair from a deep-deep discount store (early American style just like mom and my MIL. I relied on what I was used to seeing and what they liked for years before establishing my own tastes). By year 4, the fabric had worn through. Mom said she had some upholstery fabric she wasn’t using that I could have. Yay, saving me money we didn’t have (and the upholstery job cost us a whopping $40 bucks which we had to scrounge and save). Not even going to say what color the fabric was. You all know.
Eventually mom had her kitchen remodeled featuring dark oak cupboards on 2-1/2 walls with blue countertops. I guess she had grown tired of orange and yellow too. She was very proud of her kitchen and kept it (and the rest of the house) immaculate.
This week marks the 18th anniversary of mom’s death. I had gone to Iowa to see them a couple weeks prior to their 62nd anniversary in September. Mom called the night before she passed away while my sister was with her. She was struggling to get the words out but the last thing she said to me was, “I love you honey.”
She died a few weeks shy of her 78th birthday. Ironically, her twin brother Floyd passed away a few weeks after their 77th birthday, so they both died in 2004 when they were 77. Always thought it was odd they died the same year mere months apart. Mom decided to stop chemotherapy treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when the cancer returned for the 3rd time. Floyd died from complications with Parkinson’s Disease.
Maybe I was easily affected and enthralled when I was young. We certainly didn’t see eye to eye on many things. Still my life was filled with the love of her favorite color orange for decades. Mom was an influencer way ahead of her time. In this day and age she’d probably have her own You-tube podcast…