My mom would have celebrated her birthday last week; she would have been 91. She passed in July '95, suddenly and without warning as sometimes happens. That year on Mother's Day, I had given her this 'poem', all fancy, done in calligraphy, framed and with a painting of a red hat that had a real purple feather glued on the band around it. The band of course was made of a purple ribbon adorned with rhinestones. She loved it, gaudy as it was, and hung it proudly in her bathroom. At the time The Red Hat Ladies weren't a big name and we had never heard of them, but she and I loved the poem and claimed it as ours.
Since I was thinking of my mother this week, I thought I'd share it with you.
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 the 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 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.
Taken from the book
When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
Edited by Sandra Martz
Papier Mache Press--Watsonville, California 1987