The Color Purple

Often associated with royalty and true or not I don’t know, but it’s been said the color purple is one of trauma. In the disposed of wisdoms of the ’70s parents were advised against using purple in a child’s room for that reason. Purple not being a particularly favorite color of mine anyway it seems almost suitable that now it’s the color of my bedroom and bath. I’ve considered – wanted – to change that. It transpired quite by happenstance, but linens are expensive so I’ve come to live with it.

Maybe that’s a consistent mistake I make in life: Accepting what’s tolerable rather than striving to make my life its own. Or maybe the tolerance demonstrates my practical nature and selfless spirit. Maybe now that I finally have the means I’m just too tired to care about such things. Or maybe and just as likely, it demonstrates how little value I place on myself, which is regrettable in countless ways.

I’m not sure why but I seem to have a greater number of baby-memories than most people, perhaps because my early years were profoundly blessed. Sometimes I wonder if the just-as-profound miseries that came later weren’t some equalization by the forces that be, like it was somehow unfair for one child to have such a happiness.

I’ve a more than half-century old memory of the silkiest, softest, down-filled, solid colored, deep purple childhood blanket. Things were well-made and of more earthy materials then. I was a toddler or younger, small enough to be carried in this full sized blanket by my Mother.

As most memories, this one is brief and fleeting. Mother is lifting me from the back seat of the car where I slept during travels. It was a dark night with light drizzle so she threw the comforter’s edge over my head. Her jostling me into a carrying position woke me. I lay nestled in her shielded grasp, the warmth of my breath bouncing in stride with her gait beneath the comforter’s loose, airy folds. That was the most secure feeling I’ve ever had.

It felt amazing in Mom’s arms, protected in that soft down-filled blanket as if nothing else in the entire world could touch me. Even at that age I wanted to savor the sensation. It wasn’t often Mother was protective and I remember thinking how special her caring of that moment was. I pretended to stay asleep so as not to disturb its experience. I seemed to instinctively recognize the value and fleeting nature of its serenity. My feelings were the likes of, “Awww, Mom really loves me, she doesn’t want me to get wet and this feels so good, I don’t want this to end, I want to feel like this forever.”

After all of the water that’s passed under that life bridge, how one child can hang onto such an isolated, fleeting memory over more than half a century while other children grow only in refusing themselves any good memory of their youths, their parents, is beyond me. Surely most of us have some, at least one, of those memories to keep us through a lifetime. I suppose it’s all in what we want our lives to be, our memories to be, our hearts to be.

It’s whether we want to shape the world to cater and pity our embellished-over-time life shortcomings; or if we want to keep alive the fragments of love that are in it, however few or short-lived they may be. It’s a reflection of what we value. If we’re not careful the embellishments become all we do recall simply because that’s all we’ve chosen in shaping our world.

Purple represents a most loving memory for me, a cherished sparse moment in a lifetime crammed full of undesirable ones. I may never feel worthy of the cost of new bed and bath linens, but this memory keeps the love of a young mother for her child alive in my heart … because the comfort of that love and security is what her memory deserves, what I deserve, what we all deserve.

After all, which really defines who we are. Even half a century later (perhaps more importantly, ‘half a century later’) this hastened moment stood still in time still comforts and defines me. Above all others, it’s the moment I want to live and relive again. It’s the moment I want my world to be, the moment I want to give to others and the moment I pray someone has the inclination to give of me.


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