My Mother’s Favorite Color Was Rainbow
Nothing could dim her light — not even my muted pinkish-plum suggestions.
My mother’s favorite color was rainbow. She liked to dress in colors, often wearing pieces in different hues, accentuated by matching makeup and accessories.
For example, my mom wore dark green pants with a bright green shirt, green earrings, green loafers, and green eye shadow. She’d wear her favorite purple sweat suit with dangling purple earrings, a purple rhinestone flower necklace, purple sneakers, and purple eye shadow. For her 75th birthday luncheon, she wore a pink shirt, pink denim jacket, long pink skirt, complemented by pink eye shadow, a pink watch, dangling pink earrings, and a fuzzy pink-fur tiara.
When I would go to my mom’s apartment to take her for lunch, I’d say, “Mom, you can’t wear purple pants with a purple shirt and purple shoes with a purple necklace and purple eye shadow.” She ignored me. “People love my style,” she’d tell me.
She smiled as we walked to the elevator.
When we discussed makeup, she shrugged me off, too. I’d say, “Mom, it’s blush not war paint. Just brush a little on your cheeks to highlight the cheekbones.” She ignored me. She liked her cheeks pink and her eyelids to match her outfit. When I tried to challenge her, she’d say, “People love my style.”
Occasionally, I would compliment her outfit. I’d say, “Mom you look so debonair in your all black-and-white, zebra-print outfit.” She would then point to a complimented accessory (fur vest, striped jacket, animal-print scarf) and ask, “Do you want it? I’ll give it to you,” or she’d say, “I cannot believe my daughter just complimented my outfit.” And then she’d follow that up with — wait for it…“People love my style.”
“I know, Mom,” I’d say. “People love your style.”
“They do,” she’d say, nodding her head.
I often tried to get my mom to the Mac makeup counter at Bloomingdales. I would point out lipsticks like, Cream in Your Coffee, Velvet Teddy, and Verve, muted pinkish-plum colors. But, despite my best efforts, my mom’s favorite lipstick remained Maybelline Color Sensational in Mesmerizing Magenta. She liked her lips bright — better to smile at people with, no doubt.
My mom was a chunky-necklace, earrings-that-glitter, turtlenecks-woven-with-metallic-thread kind of gal. Her clothes and makeup complemented her sparkly personality. Everyone could see that. But I tried to modulate her rainbow. I am glad she never listened to me. Nothing could dim my mother’s light — not even my muted pinkish-plum suggestions.
I wish I could tell her I get it now: only a radiant, confidant woman could wear leopard from head to toe, including wrist watch and shoes, and stride purposefully through Ralph’s supermarket. I wish I could tell her that I get it now: she painted and needle-pointed and interior decorated when she was younger and, as she got older, fashion was her canvas. Her style was joy. I get it now, Mom. I am so glad she never wore the Cream in Your Coffee lipstick. She looked so damn good in Mesmerizing Magenta.
After my mom died, I mailed ‘Vicki gifts’ to her many best friends in North Carolina and New Jersey, Cincinnati and Toronto, and several different cities in Florida. I hand-delivered Vicki gifts to her best friends at her old apartment in North Hollywood. Each gift included a colorful shirt — green, royal blue, black and white, hot pink or turquoise — and a matching set of dangling earrings, or a chunky necklace, or a leopard or colored-stone broach.
Her friends sent me thank-you notes for the gifts of clothing and jewelry that were so central to who my mother was. They told me how their vision of her, in her colorfully coordinated outfits and fun jewelry, remained so vivid for them. It remains vivid for me, too.
Vivid is a good word for my mother. She lived her life in color. The colors she chose and wore and adored were an expression of her spirit. Even her shoes ran the gamut of ROYGBIV, plus silver, gold, and black with rhinestones. She sparkled. Everybody saw it.
“Everybody loves my style,” she told me.
And they did. But, most importantly, she loved her style. She was an unapologetic original. I get it now, Mom. You were even more fabulous in life than I ever even realized. I wish I could tell her so. I will have to assume she knows.
I wish I could call her and tell her how I am bored of every stitch of clothing in my wardrobe and how I am making a new Pinterest board called, VICKI-INSPIRED CLOSET and pinning all the looks that feel like “me.” I am sick of all the black and gray and white and beige in my closet. I want to donate all my clothes to Good Will and start fresh. I want my outside to reflect the passionate, edgy-artsy, bohemian I feel on the inside. I want to confidently walk through Ralph’s wearing whatever is my style, without a care in the world. I want to be like my mother.
In my mind’s eye, I see my mom ecstatic over that compliment. She is waving to me and blowing me kisses, her Mesmerizing Magenta lips puckered and smiling. My mom loved color and clothes, and she loved to shop. My style makeover is an endeavor I know she’d approve of. I wish she was here to do it with me.