Thursday, August 16, 2007

Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
By Jenny Joseph


When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am 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 people's gardens
and learn to spit.
I am sure you have read this poem before, so I only quoted part of it. I was looking through my bookcases today and ran across this book, it belonged to my mother. When she crossed over I hung onto this book because this was one of my mother's favorite poems. She was the one who introduced it to me. So I have kept the book all these years, not really reading it, just keeping it for comfort, knowing that it meant a great deal to her. Now when I pass by it and pick it up I feel closer to her knowing the many times she picked it up, held it, read it.
So I was reading this poem today. I wonder if she had known she was going to die so early would she have chosen to wear a little purple a little sooner? She was saving her 'wild' side for "old age". She knew many elderly people who were wearing purple, spitting, going out in the rain in slippers. I wonder did she envy them at all? Or would she have continued to conform to those societal norms even into her old age?
I wear purple, maybe not all the time, but some of the time. I do what I want. My boys will know what it is like to wear purple. They will not have those same boxes to fit into. They will not save their 'wild' side for old age. For you never know....old age might not come. It never came for my mother.
"Mom I sure hope you are happy now, surrounded by love and wearing purple."

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