It’s not often one finds brightly colored finger-nail polish bottles awaiting one at a funeral. Or the special request to paint one nail, just one, in honor of the deceased.
But this was not just any funeral. It was a celebration. A party as a last request of the delightful woman for whom we’d gathered and were paying tribute. And it wasn’t just anyone who had died.
Kathy Pierce was one of the brightest and best of the storytellers in the Lehigh Valley. In New Jersey. Heck, in the mid-Atlantic. She may not have been on the national circuit, or hobnobbed with the rich and powerful. But by the full church and the stories, anecdotes, music and dance that paid tribute to her, you knew she was a powerhouse of talent and gem of a human being.
Kathy was the first professional storyteller I met here in the Lehigh Valley when I moved from Idaho. There I’d been part of tight network of fellow tellers. I wasn’t sure what I’d discover here…and what I discovered was Kathy: a bright, energetic, funny, transfixing presence that made you smile just by being near her. She was a teller of tales, a weaver of magic that all of us who heard her were inspired by. She had cropped red hair — bright red from a wonderful bottle. She was a brightly colored in her style as a bird-of-paradise, or a hummingbird, or a peacock. And she had one brightly painted fingernail.
One time, at a “wild woman” party before a storytelling event celebrating women, she encouraged us all to paint our nails. “But everybody paints them all. And everybody paints them the SAME colors,” she said. “Why would you want to be like everybody?”
Kathy reminded us all to celebrate the fire within, to let it out and let it shine. She taught some of us middling women to stop being afraid of the power we had, and to let others see it. “What’s the point of being a woman if you’re not going to celebrate it?”
So, I pledge to let myself simply paint one finger-nail sometimes. And paint it any color I want. Purple? sure. Green? why-not. Yellow with pink dots? absolutely.
And if you see me, or anyone else walking around with a single painted finger-nail, know that, somewhere, there is a shining and brightly hued spirit laughing with gusto and saying, “You go girl.”