This month, Judith asked us to write about our favorite color. The shade, the why, the how. Until today, I have shared this story with a handful of people. Now, I'm sharing it with all of you. I hope you enjoy it.
In every life there are simple moments, moments we will later recall with crisp clarity in our reflection back to that time and place. For me, there are many of these moments, and I pray these memories never leave me. One such memory is the day I decided sapphire blue was the most beautiful color in the world; through the years it remains my favorite.
It was the first crayon I picked up to color with, and I wanted coloring books with lots and lots of skies and oceans. My people always had blue eyes, blue clothing, blue shoes, blue houses, and blue pets (it drove my older sister crazy!). I was a 'color my world blue' child. Now you know what, here's the how and the why.
The yearis 1961. It's February, I'm three years old and terribly sick with pneumonia. My mother is a single parent in Los Angeles raising two young girls. Mom has finally landed a day job as a secretary, and placed my older sister and I in day care. As the pneumonia worsens, staff at the day care refused to take me, informing my mother that I am too ill for them to care for and I should be left home until I recuperate. Mom stays home with me for a week, but my condition does not improve. She must return to work or she'll lose her job, so she contacts her mother in Washington, and my father as well, and explains the situation. Arrangements are made for me to fly from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, where my father will pick me up. From Portland, he will drive back to his home in Lewiston, Idaho; there I will remain until the end of August.
To this day I remember seeing, for the very first time, the big silver bird at the airport. I remember holding my mother and sister's hands as we walked through two large glass doors toward the bird. The sun was out but the air was cool and a breeze tickled my warm cheeks as Mom led us across the tarmac toward a group of people standing beside a set of metal stairs leading up into the bird.
At the bottom of the stairs, Mom began to speak to a woman dressed in a dark, heavy coat. The woman was a chaperone hired by the airline to accompany me on the flight. I didn't like the lady; she frightened me and reminded me of a very cruel person who once took care of me. I didn't want to leave my mother and I didn't feel very good. I was tired, and cranky, and cold. Mom kneeled down to my level. She told me I needed to go with the lady in the heavy coat. The woman held out her hand for me, but I resisted, preferring to bury my face into my mother's arms while clinging to the security of her warm body.
With her gentle, caring tone, Mom convinced me not to be afraid, that everything would be all right. Slowly, I pulled my face away from her body. She looked deep into my eyes, and softly stroked my cheek. I felt safe just then, no longer frightened. Then she persuaded me to release my grip from her clothing and to take the hand of this stranger and follow her up the metal stairs into the belly of the giant silver bird.
I did what my mother told me to do. Reluctantly, I stepped away from my mother, and took the hand of the waiting stranger, who led me up the stairs. I wanted to look back at my mother, but the height of each step forced me to concentrate my attention on bringing my short legs up high enough to reach every step. Only when we reached the top, just before we stepped inside, did I turn around for another look at my mother and sister. They seemed so small and far away, standing there waving at me. I didn't want to leave them there, but I believed my mother's words. Mom was always right.
I followed the woman down the aisle to our seats and she let me sit by the window. From my seat I watched my mother and sister walk slowly toward the glass doors of the terminal. Soon, the giant silver bird roared to life, then it began to move. Through the window I watched the scenery pass by. I asked the woman when I would see my mommy again, and she replied she didn't know, but I needed to take a nap. I was tired and didn't feel good, but I refused to sleep. This woman wasn't my mommy and I didn't have to do what she said.
Within a few minutes, I felt a lurch as the giant bird launched into the air, but I never took my eyes off the window. Just then I saw the most beautiful thing ever, through the glass. It sparkled and twinkled in the sunlight. Quickly I leaned in toward the windowto get a better view, completely in awe of the deep blanket below me. Through the window, the Pacific Ocean stretched out, forever. Never ending, it was everywhere. It was beautiful. I asked my escort what color it was.
"Blue," she replied.
Blue. It even sounded beautiful. Blue. It was the same color as my eyes. I no longer felt sad. I no longer missed my mommy or my sister. I no longer felt tired, or afraid. I felt...happy. I liked this color. I felt good looking at this color. With my tiny nose pressed against the window, I sat entranced by the magic of blue. It was so relaxing, so perfect...so right.
Suddenly, little puffs of clouds streaked by the window, then I lost my view of the big blue glittery blanket as the bird climbed higher and higher, immersing itself in fluffy clouds. I was still trying to get another look at the ocean below, when we reached the top of the clouds and I saw the pale sky. It too, was everywhere. This blue was the same color as my mommy's eyes. I sat back in my seat, never taking my eyes off the window. I asked my companion if that was blue, too. With a quick nod of her head, she confirmed it was.
With total fascination, I gazed through the window at the blue sky, thinking of the ocean and the billowy soft clouds just below me. Through that window, everything was beautiful, everything sparkled, everything was right. That day, just before I fell asleep inside the belly of the giant silver bird, I fell in love with the color blue.
That day, I fell in love with clouds, too.