Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Lady in Pink

One of the many wonderful things that happened when I wrote a family history (http://www.dabbscrossroads.blogspot.com/ ) was that I learned about the colorful relatives who preceded me.  Many of them reappear throughout my writing, some in tidbits, others full-blown.

The Lady in Pink in my novels is based on an absolutely delightful aunt, my Aunt Nell.  Nell raised four boys.   “My life was full of browns and grays,” she said.  “I’d had enough.”  When her last son had moved out of the house, she dedicated herself to pink…pink for the rest of her life.  Seriously…EVERYTHING was turned into pink.

The piano was painted pink.  Furniture was recovered or tossed.  The cotton balls in the bathroom were pink, curtains … of course, pink.  Bed sheets, kitchen appliances, cars and needles to say, all clothes, jewelry, glasses, and shoes were pink.  Her husband doted on her, and to everyone’s surprise, since he was a military man, accommodated her whim.  Every morning she picked out his clothes for him, and although his suit or slacks were never pink, he always wore a pink tie with pink socks, and most frequently a light pink shirt.  “I feel like a damn Easter Egg,” he once said, but regardless, like a good solider he followed the routine.

For the last twenty years of their lives, my aunt and uncle ate out every meal.  Included in her redirection in life was the plan never to cook again.  There were a series of restaurants they rotated through, according to the day of the week.  With age, they slowed.  A broken hip caused a limp and ultimately a shuffle.  But every day, dressed to the nines in pink they made their way across the restaurant floor to their favorite tables to eat their meals.  My aunt with pink sunglasses (she had no fewer than 20 pair), she would have a large cloth flower or bow pinned to her dress.  They entered arm and arm and slowly but predictably Aunt Nell would smile and wave to the diners one by one as if she were royalty recognizing her loyal subjects.

It never ceased to amaze me how a restaurant of sullen strangers would suddenly brighten.  How could you not?   Their dress, their smiles, their obvious long-term devotion to one another.  Many an evening I sat watching their entrance and marveled at the simple joy they brought to so many by just being who they were.  What a gift.  What a wonderful daily gift they gave us all.