Here’s another paint color story.
When my sister Joyce got married, I moved into the front bedroom of our house alone, the first time I had a bedroom to myself in our small, overly-populated home. She helped me decide on paint colors, and we told our mother that I wanted a pale yellow, the same shade as a particular green bench in our house — only yellow.
My mother bought the paint and started the painting while I was at school one day; in retrospect, I assume she must have taken a day off of work to do so. When I got home, the transformation had nearly been finished, and my room now gleamed in pale blue.
“You couldn’t find yellow?” I asked my mother. She looked down at me from the ladder on which she stood.
“The name of the paint was ‘cornflower’,” she replied. “I didn’t realize that cornflowers are blue.”
It was a pretty color, nonetheless, and as blue has always been my favorite color, I had no objection to it. I slept in that blue room for the next four or five years.
A lifetime later, when my mother lay in a rented hospital bed in the middle bedroom of that same house, dying, I entertained her with a lively rendition of that story. If she had ever recalled that event, she no longer did, and found it amusing. We shared a laugh about the folly of her younger self. After a few minutes, she sobered, turned to me, and said, “Sometimes you think you’re getting one thing, and it turns out, you’re mistaken.”
She closed her eyes and fell silent.
We sat together within her silence. I don’t know what went through my mother’s mind. As for myself, I thought about awakening, and how it feels to realize that everything you believed might be a lie.
Or a dream, that still has a chance of coming true.