Three years ago (how does time pass so quickly?!) I wrote a blog post on Growing Old and The Red Hat Ladies. Just three short years ago! Oh how our attitudes can change when our bodies and minds begin to show the first evidences of age.
This morning I broke my little 4-cup coffee pot--banged it on the marble countertop. Not on purpose, of course, but just being clumsy and in a hurry. It's something I've begun to notice about myself lately. Clumsiness. And forgetfulness. And a kind of general ennui that's hard to pin down. I guess it's age.
And now I think of the red hat poem as not only some deliberate act of rebellion, but perhaps also mere surrender to age with its foibles and wacky impulses. Yes, I am feeling it now.
Jenny Joseph was in her 30's when she wrote the poem, and so wrote it as one who could only observe old-age behavior. Well just you wait, Jenny Joseph, when you're 65 and you start to realize not just what we do, but why we do it.
My thoughts are a bit more tempered now towards the red hat ladies and their luncheons and parties and dressing up. They refuse to surrender. And a group is always stronger than one alone. Strength in numbers. And good for seniors who are starting to get clumsy and forgetful. I may not join the red hats, but I'm going to start looking for a group that's the right fit for me.
The poem bears repeating.
by Jenny Joseph
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.