iS STrong. Confident.
RED is alive.

Though for most of my life I viewed RED as too much, too pushy.
I feared RED.
No RED clothes. No RED boots.
Definitely NO RED CARS.
RED was just too visible.
Invisible was preferred.

A memory that defines this learned opinion goes back to the mid 70’s.
My eldest sister Jennie is starting to become a woman.
She’s 7 years older than me.
Old enough to wear make-up, and now painting her nails. RED.
My Dad does not like her choice.
I’m told then that she’s a lot like Zeta.
Zeta painted her nails. RED.
I quickly sense my Dad’s dismay.

I hear my mother describing Zeta, my paternal grandmother.
She wore the RED.
Mother did not like her.
I can tell. Zeta was too bold.
Zeta used her beauty to get what she wanted.
She wore RED.
She was a bombshell. She was a writer. She was not your average mother.
She wore RED.
My mother never wore RED. It would be too brazen. Too strong. Too BOLD.

I am now the age my sister was when she first wore RED.
I do not wear the RED.
I fall in love.
I love his family.
I love his Irene.
Irene loves RED. She is brilliant. She is strong.
She is not brazen. She is special. She is clever.
She is not your average mother. She is Real. She is more.
She loves RED.
She is a good mother to me.
She loves RED.

Decades pass.
I am grown.
I am an artist.
I am now a mother.
Irene comes with gifts to see my baby. Like a mother.
She asks me to paint for her.
“…with RED” she says.
I can’t I say. I just DON’T DO RED.
“…you must learn to use your RED.”

Her piece came about as if the tube of Carmine knew her wishes.
It knew to be cautious with the RED. Not too much RED.
I felt the white voids. The relief.
Contrasted inked greens and sea blues

I surround myself with Irene’s love of RED.
RED is the colour I see in every direction of my life.
RED makes me strong.
RED is my blood.
RED keeps me alive.

In memory of Irene Robertson October 3, 2011

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