Our Beautiful Lady of the Red Hat

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 flowers in other people’s 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 pickle 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.

Warning, by Jenny Joseph




Fridays were red hat days at the care center.  I asked dad once what mom did at those meetings.  He thought for a minute, then shook his head and said he supposed she mostly just sat around with other old ladies who were also wearing red hats. And that’s all he had to say about that.  The group took mom away from him for a time and he didn’t like that much. 

I’d venture to guess, by the looks of these pictures, that she thoroughly enjoyed herself participating in whatever it was they all got up to.  I don’t believe any of them learned to spit, but what do I know? 

I always tell people of all ages who have been prescribed eyewear, if you have to wear glasses, you might as well have some fun with it!  Try on something a little wild and crazy – it might just suit you perfectly. Seems to me, the same thing holds true when it comes to growing old.  If you have to do it (and you’re very lucky if you do!) then by all means, make up for the sobriety of your youth.  Have some fun with it. You’ve earned the right to be eccentric, and it’s never too early to take some practice runs.