Sunday, October 11, 2009



"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."

~Jenny Joseph~

Are there things you are looking forward
to doing, when you are 'old',
That you are not doing now
for propriety's sake?

I, for example
look forward to . . .
Hmmmm, I will surely want to . . .
Ummmm, well . . .

Just figured out I must
be very close to being old . . .
Because I am already
doing many of the things
I thought I would do
when I finally qualified as a senior citizen!

Such as:

Laughing loudly at my own jokes

Wearing no make-up

Dancing with children in the street

Not being afraid to appear silly

Talking to birds and animals that cross my path

Telling people exactly what I think

Being frank instead of interminably polite

Not feeling shy about public displays of affection

Saying 'no' without feeling guilty

Fiercely protecting my energy and my time

and, of course . . .

Wearing purple whenever I want.

And what about you?

What wild and carefree things are you planning to do when you are 'old'

that you want to warn us about?


  1. Hi Bonnie my kindred spirit

    I am doing all of the above and:

    not going to functions that disinterest me

    wearing casual comfy clothes all of the time

    never wearing high heels

    not feeling guilty if I choose something different to the general consensus

    being fiercely protective of my values and boundaries

    stop and talk to strangers

    and there will be more...and most of these I have been doing for a long while so I too am aged...

    Happy days

  2. I love your list! It sounds awfully familiar. :)

    And purple is the very best color...

  3. Ah, of my very favorite poems. my beloved Grandmother loved the color purple her whole Mom read this poem to her at her 70th birthday....what a memory. What I want to do when I am old? Well, I haven't really thought about when I am old...right now I'm just working on this age.....but thanks for the memory.


  4. Ha! My daughter called my husband and I old farts today - and it didn't bother me a bit. So perhaps I have "arrived." I, too, have started doing things I planned to do as an old lady. I wanted to let my eccentricties have a life of their own. Check! I wanted to stop being so well behaved. (still behaving). I want to be crabby when I please (check). Still working on the list. Fun, thought-provoking post! Thanks

  5. The beauty of this post lies in its wisdom and blithe tone. There was a time when old age did not mean much to me. Then my grandmother died and I suffered pangs of guilt because of the way I treated her in her old age. Over the years I've changed my thinking on old age and come to accept that one day, yes, I wil be old. I won't be able to run 10 miles, or do my difficult yoga positions. I will have to stop teaching Afro-Cuban dance in my free time and trekking in the countryside will be an event of the past. But I look forward to entering a new stage of my life. I will be more relaxed and calm, more straight-talking (as if!) and in-your-face. I will, above all, enjoy my twilight years.

    Your post was a powerful reminder (and I don't need reminders, by the way, I have a 75-year-old mother-in-law who feels and acts like a spring chicken) of how society deals with the elderly. Reading through that list, there's nothing there that could or would sound embarrassing and yet, and yet... as a society we frown upon those who display those tendencies, well, some of us do.

    By the way, I love Lhasa. Unfortunately I have not got any albums by her, although I do have her on my wishlist on and I will be purchasing her records very soon. I do listen to her music on my scrobbler on and of course, youtube. The latest video I saw of her? A wonderful version of 'Who By Fire'.

    Many thanks for such witty thoughts. Very welcome on this beautiful autumn morning in GB.

    Greetings from London.

  6. Oh boy, ain't gettin' old great?
    As I read your list, I thought, "I do that! I do that!"

    Yesterday morning I finished my first (third?) cup of coffee, put on some shoes, put on my short jacket over my long nightgown, and mogged out with my big Tupperware bowl of ammonia and Dawn and water in one hand and a roll of paper towels in the other, to wash the car windows in the fall sunshine. I schlepped around the car at my own slow pace and I panted and grunted as I reached impossibly to clean the inside of the back window.

    And all the time I was thinking, "This is so great!"

  7. Like you Bonnie, I'd like to think I am already "growing" into them! I first saw this writing back in college, and my sister and I actually started calling ourselves the "purple sisters" and she was PS1 and I was PS2. We still sign notes as such!

  8. That's GREAT!!! I'm going to be a crazy old woman too. At least, I hope!

  9. yes to growing old (vintage!) and finding after all these years a bit of art lying there in the corner of my heart ... elk

  10. Delwyn: Isn't it wonderful to live now, when we don't have to wait to be old to live life the way we want to live it!! I'm with you about the comfy clothes and no high heels! ((hug))

  11. Open Heart: This poem has been around a long time and I knew it would be familiar to most of you. I'm so happy to hear it brought back some sweet memories for you.

  12. Kathleen: That is important - to feel at home with our eccentricities! I've always been a little quirky and out of step with the crowd. And if ever I find myself too much 'in step', I shuffle my feet a bit to get back out of step. That's how I want to be.

  13. Cuban: You are such a renaissance man! So many talents and I hope you bring them all (and more) with you into your older years. But as Delwyn and I are suggesting (and we are not senior citizens, btw!) we can do what we love and love what we do NOW! For example, do you ever strike a beautiful, difficult yoga pose on your hikes. I'm sure the answer is 'yes'. So there you go - renaissance in every way, I'm sure!!

  14. Jayne or PS2!! That is amazing - that you and your sister call yourself purple sister 1 & 2!
    At a young age you knew you wanted to be free to express yourself and not be constrained by artificial, societal norms.

  15. Sylvia: You could do something really radical and be a crazy young woman who feels free to express all that she is!!!

  16. Elk (RedorGreyArt): Isn't it wonderful to open ourselves up to expressing all of who we are, and discovering buried talents in the process?!!

  17. I have a purple straw hat that hangs on my wall...when I feel old I will wear it...but not just yet at almost 65...and when I do feel old...well then, as I do now...I shall do what I want.

  18. I qualify as an old fart! I just forgot what I was going to say!

  19. you see the heart in your photo? There is one...outlined by the trees.

  20. I have been old for a long time. Living on a farm in the company of horses, I don't need to do much with myself. So I wear whatever, I don't own any makeup and I carry on conversations with dogs and horses. And that's on a good day! I dislike purple though.

  21. Wanda: What a sweet refrain: "I shall do as I want!"

  22. Bagman and Butler: I like to think I forget, because my mind is racing forward to something even more wonderful! And, having read your posts, I doubt you forget much of anything - but are willing to say so for the comedic value. Found myself doing that very thing a few times!

  23. Sandra: Well, you've got it! Choose whatever color you like! Perhaps when that poem was written there were even 'rules' about what colours to wear. I recall my mother saying for fun, "Blue and green, should never be seen, except on a royal princess or queen." Huh?? Nature dons whatever colours she chooses and I think we should too!

  24. This reminded me so much of my dear old mom who used to quote the first line of this poem a lot. The freedom of her purple-wearing period was cut short by Alzheimer's, but it makes me smile to see purple as the current trend in fashion. Maybe I'll start sooner than she did.....

  25. Oh, I am really laughing out loud at this! The original poem is so close to my heart. Could it be that I live in a tiny town, work at home in my very own office and rarely get out in the public? Must be that I am getting old...more like I AM old! I think I have been old for a very long time as I really am not concerned how other people perceive me...I am who I am without make-up, fancy dress, speaking my mind or being quite frank. All the good things in life!!

  26. Good stuff!! I don't think I'm "old" by any means, but I have reached an age where I am happy to live as I warnings needed!! I just do it if it feels right and good. I dress as I want to, speak to people at random, I laugh out loud and I found myself dancing like a fool in Wal*Mart the other day - my 21 year old son was with me and burst out laughing. He gets it!! I hope he remembers to live his life just this way -- right now -- why wait??

  27. Deborah: I think that's the point - why wait until we are old to do the things we really want to do?!!! We are wasting time not really expressing who we are!

  28. Alicia: Exactly - all the REAL things - the ways we can be true to ourself.

  29. Sherry Lee: Serious illness really helps one shed the masks and the inhibitions. Your son is amazing to be able to enjoy your free spirit without being embarrassed at his young age. Bravo to you both!

  30. Hi Bonnie - one of the best things about being retired is that every day is made up in whatever way one chooses to make it up. Yes there are still chores but nobody is breathing down your neck to get them done. I have Jennie Joseph's poem pinned to the back of the bathroom door so that I know it off by heart - have not taken to wearing purple yet - but I will, I will.

  31. Weaver: It is a luxury to be able to determine one's own schedule. Yes, this poem has been around a long while, and I have seen more recent (plagerized) versions here and there. I don't know it by heart yet - but I am not a natural-born poet like you!

  32. One of my favorite poems. Now we need one for the over 50 women who get their first tattoo. Yahoo!

    Julie Magers Soulen Photography
    Blog of Note

  33. Julie: I recall from one of your posts that you have a tatoo - Sooooooo, methinks you should be the one to write the poem!! Not sure I will be quite that brave when I am "old" (not that you are!!!).

  34. how timely! a girlfriend and i (half century gals) and my mother just had this 'talk' yesterday, what is 'old' supposed to look like?
    my mom is 81 and she says she has always wondered what you are 'supposed' to look like when you are 80 ...
    my boys call me a dinosaur ... ha! ... i don't feel a day over '17' ... whatever that is supposed to 'look' like and i feel just as wise as i did then.
    in fact, i find those youthful years to be most formative and what i believed in then, i am actually following through with now ... much wiser ... not nearly as swayed by peers and consumerism and other ism's that pull you in directions throughout the 'formative' years ...
    i think i am now 'formed' with a wide open mind ...
    it's a grand place to be ... this 'older' ...
    i figure if we are going along for the ride, we might as well do it with the top down, wind blowing through our hair and big smile on our face ...
    i probably won't wear purple for the trend reasons, but i will continue to wear my overalls and hiking boots, just as i did when i was 17 ...
    thanks bonnie ~ lots of interesting comments on this topic!
    oh ... and love your image ~ it really is beautiful ~ i do love purple!
    prairiegirl xo

  35. Hello Bonnie,
    Delightful posting. I'm old and doing most of those things, plus wearing my white nightgown in the garden as I photograph; And I wear pink; when a salesperson tells me my skin is dry,(in hopes of frightening me into buying expensive face cream) I shoot back, "'s just old." A friend was criticized by a family member and she responded, "I'm old...I'm allowed." I'm going to remember that one for later.

  36. Hi Bonnie! The best part was that beautiful black lab sticking out his tongue as if to say, "So there!" So cute! I very seldom wear makeup any more, but I'm not quite ready to give up dyeing my hair. When we turned our business over to our sons, I built a studio downstairs where I paint, make collages, write poetry, blog, and then go upstairs to my piano lessons! Somone suggested dancing as a good form of exercise for an "older" person. It's just not that bad, is it?! xxox

  37. Wanda: No, I did not see the heart - thank you for pointing it out!

  38. Prairie Girl: So well said - "if we're going along for the ride, we may as well do so with the top down, wind blowing through our hair, and a smile on our face.

    A lot of this is about casting off the way we were conditionned as children to distrust our natural impulses, behave ourselves, be good, be proper, etc. It is about reclaiming the qualities of a child - being spontaneous, free, uninhibited, real, and un-self-conscious.

  39. Margaret: You make it sound absolutely wonderful!! I was wondering when someone would finally comment on the irreverant pup.

  40. Bonnie, I absolutely LOVE this post! I LOVE your attitude! We're living a pretty good life traveling all the time, so there's not a lot I would change. But I do say what I want to strangers - sometimes I think it might get me into trouble. Don't get me wrong - I don't say anything mean or anything. It's my sense of humor that might get me in trouble! I, too, don't wear make up that often. Sure, I'd like to be thinner, but I am what I am. Love me or leave me. Thanks for this wonderful post.

  41. OOps...I just read that last line, after I posted you an award on my blog....but that's OK, it is the thought that counts.

  42. Young in spirit though decades have past
    With age a vow to be beyond expectation cast
    In days young so loving, wise and free I be
    Time and time again to just again be that me
    Old I was in days of youth, and young I am in age
    As a Grandmother, poet, artist, ever a new page
    So the story that each day is yet to tell
    Is that I am that me in age doing quite well.

    Thank you for your post Dear Bonnie and the poetic words so dear. And happily I am dong all that I choose, and to you a loving cheer.

    With love,
    Rose Marie

    Rose Marie Raccioppi

  43. Pat: I know what you mean about getting into trouble with your sense of humour. That especially happens to me here in Quebec when I am trying to be witty in French - and it doesn't come off the way I intended!

    I've always had the feeling since visiting your blog that you are certainly not waiting to be old to kick up your heels and be yourself!

    Glad you enjoyed this post.

  44. Hilary: It certainly is the thought that counts and I thank you for it! I feel honoured that you would think of me.

  45. Rose Marie: Your presence and words are sorely needed here to add that 'je ne sais quoi' - that touch of class! You embody that unique combination of being yourself in such an elegant way . . . truly what I aspire to . . . Thank you.


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