My Mom’s Favorite Color Is …

Where it began I’m not really sure. My mother has had a penchant for red things for as long as I can remember. How do I know this? Just look at a few of the school photos that have survived over the years or the family photos that show touches of red everywhere.

Because I had long, straight hair as a young girl, my mother often had me wear a wide, red headband to school to keep the hair out of my face. Nearly every school picture until about sixth grade, I can be seen wearing a red headband. One year before a family photo was to be taken, she put me and my sisters in matching flowered dresses – red print, of course.

She may even have stitched them up on her sewing machine that hummed along a lot when we were kids. The machine got a workout right before Halloween with the demand for costumes. Why buy a costume that looks like everyone else when Mom could come up with something out of her huge bag of remnant fabrics?

She also outfitted a few of our wedding parties with dresses. I know Mom still likes to visit the fabric stores, but threading that darn needle is a chore for her these days.

I remember I was going on a trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo with a summer day camp group – a pretty big deal when you’re 9 and have never been through Pittsburgh. My mother bought me a pair of red culottes and matching blouse to wear. I felt like a princess, partly because it was something new, not a hand-me-down, and partly because it was bright red. It was a good day.

When we dared to venture to the Ohio State Fair as a family of 12 kids, I recall wearing red tennis shoes. Maybe Mom thought dressing us in red would make it easier for her to keep track of all of us.

Our Dad picked up on the red thing and made sure my Mom received something red each Christmas. With five daughters, my Dad initiated a father-daughter Christmas shopping-and-dinner night out every year so that we could help him select some gifts for Mom. Inevitably she received a red sweater, coat or piece of jewelry as part of the gift giving.

When my father died, my mother wore a black dress with a red/pink jacket to his funeral because he liked her in red. No one questioned it. I looked at it as her personal tribute to her husband.

There were times, no doubt, that Mom was “seeing red” because of the things we did as kids. Somehow she took it all in stride. Whether it was a broken arm or broken down bicycle, she kept her cool when it counted.

Today, Mom still can be seen sporting a red sweater or jacket. After all, she looks good in it.

This weekend we will celebrate Mother’s Day and Mom’s 88th birthday. Most likely there will be something red in the midst of the celebrations. I hope she will enjoy her day as much as I did in my new red outfit on that trip to Pittsburgh some 50 years ago.

To mothers everywhere, may all your days be happy.

Heather Ziegler can be reached at