Mom’s favorite color was blue. Her bedroom was decorated in hues of blue and her kitchen was accented in blue. Her china was, of course, “Blue Willow,” a design pattern originating in the late 1700s. One of her favorite songs was “Blues in the Night” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. I could go on, but the point is that my dear mother loved all things blue! During her final years when she was deep in the throes of dementia, Mom’s care givers helped Mom with all activities of daily living, including taking care of her nails. Mom always enjoyed polishing her nails, however, her choice of nail polish was usually clear or, if colored, light pink. Near the end of her life, I asked her what color nail polish she would like me to buy for her and her answer should have come as no surprise: “blue.” I had never seen her wear blue nail polish, but I decided to indulge her in her request, so I bought nail polish in a vivid shade of blue for Mother’s Day. Her eyes lit up and she smiled a big smile when she opened the package containing the bright blue nail polish. Sadly, Mom passed away soon after Mother’s Day and never had the opportunity to have her nails painted her favorite color. When cleaning her home in preparation to sell it, I discovered the unopened bottle of nail polish. I immediately stopped cleaning and applied it to my toenails. (I can’t wear fingernail polish because it would chip the instant I begin playing the bass guitar.) I had a long standing weekend getaway with two of my childhood friends within a few days of painting my nails bright blue and they immediately remarked that my toenails were polished with one of the most hideous colors they had ever seen me wear! I explained that my blue nail polish, which was beautiful in Mom’s eyes but ugly to some people, was being worn by me as a tribute to Mom. I have continued to apply the blue nail polish in the years since Mom passed away, although it doesn’t match anything I wear. I used all of the polish I gave Mom and I have replaced it with the same color of polish as needed. I absolutely adore people’s shocked reactions to my bright blue toenails because it gives me the opportunity to tell them about my special way of paying tribute to my late mother, who loved blue. One never knows why people do the things they do, but one thing to know about me is that I always have a reason for doing what I do!
Fortunately for me, blue is one of my 2 favorite colors. The other, since childhood, is orange (only certain shades) and this is not because I’m a Gator fan, I’m not – nothing personal – I’m just not. So, I don’t know why, I just like orange, near the dark ochre side, like Uluru, or a dramatic sunset and especially, Uluru at sunset. Anyway, colors say many things, but more germane to Melissa’s post, colors, or other symbols, mean different things, or are significant to people, for different reasons. We all see people wearing symbols, like a pink pendant or yellow rubber wrist band, and from the 1970s, a silver medal bracelet. Most often we know what these mean, but rarely do we know what significance it has to the individual wearing it. And, in most cases, it would be insensitive to ask, unless perhaps one was sporting the same item or symbol. I often wonder, how close the connection is of the person wearing or promoting that item? How deep is their involvement in whatever the issue is and how whatever it is has touched them? Some of these are more well known than others. Some may be symbols of some “secret” society or club. Mostly, I do not ask about these things unless I know the person well – though if they are wearing a symbol, they are probably willing to talk about it. Regardless, recognizing these symbols is an important part of interacting with others. Whether jewelry, a bumper sticker, a tattoo, or nail polish, think about what it says, and consider “going there” to ask more. But, don’t just assume the nail polish color reflects one person’s poor taste in colors.