Monday, June 24, 2013
I Shall Wear Purple
Jenny Thomas' poem "Warning" begins, "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me." I read this poem a dozen years ago, and it touched me. I think of it from time to time, when I notice the crow's feet, which I prefer to call laugh lines. I think of it when I choose the comfortable clothes over the fashionable ones. I think of it when I finally say exactly what I think, and I am not sorry for it.
My husband and I have decided that "old" is twenty years older than we are. When we are 80, we will look at the centenarians with a knowing look and give each other a wink. At least we're not THAT old, we will think. But often I catch myself doing things and think, "Girl, you're getting OLD." Perhaps I am, but I'd rather not "check out" just yet, so I will embrace aging over the alternative.
Yesterday it was my extreme delight to attend a gathering comprised of high school friends. We were the Nelson County High School Class of '79. On a whim, several weeks ago, I suggested that we all find red hats for a fun photo shoot. There were detractors; "I can't wear hats; I can't breathe if I wear a hat; I don't WANT to wear a hat." Everyone seemed to resign themselves with the fact that it looked like the majority had won; we would all be wearing hats.
Margaret took great care in selecting the hats, and we were impressed how each style seemed to match our personalities. We laughed and teased as each of us put our hats on. Someone told us we weren't old enough to be Red Hat ladies. It's more of an ATTITUDE than an age.
The whole afternoon was filled with good-natured hilarity, tender hugs and whispers of encouragement, as many of us are facing new challenges at this stage in our lives. We ate, we drank, we talked, and listened. If this is getting old, sign me up. I hope to have many Red Hat Society gatherings in the future.
A friend of mine quipped, "When I get old I shall wear purple...until then, let's dress in purple." Thank you, Kimberly Keisel. Agreed. It's such a lovely color on anyone. And at my age, I can take all of the image enhancers I can get! I will be looking for more opportunities to don my red chapeau. It is darling, and I couldn't have picked out a better hat for myself.
P.S. For any who have not read Jenny Thomas' poem, I have attached it below.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickles for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
by Jenny Joseph