I was trying to clean up my computer (ha, didn’t get very far) and I came across this poem:
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.
By: Jenny Joseph
Reading this once again took me back to my childhood and days on our 80-acre farm in Wisconsin. My mother (God Bless Her) was a great dreamer and I am sure that the mix of her dreams and my dad’s (God Bless Him) grand ideas created me and my love for creating things.
I remember we had a radio that sat up on a high shelf in the kitchen. Below it hung a bunch of different keys for the farm and farm equipment. The shelf was situated up high so that we three girls could not mess with it. It was mom’s and mom’s alone to listen to while completing the household chores. We listened to:
- All the current 1960’s music.
- Pac-Rat toons (for those that do not know, that is stuff from the likes of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra – google it.)
- Paul Harvey’s The Rest of The Story show (I personally loved these!).
- Occasional the instrumental classics
The interesting thing about this little corner of mom’s world is that there were two newspaper clippings that were pasted to the wall directly under that radio/key shelf. The first is the above poem titled Warning but we knew it as When I grow up, I shall wear purple. The other was this one:
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
– Author Unknown.
I find it funny how, now decades later, these two poems mean more to me than ever before. I did a bit of research on Jenny Joseph and found that she wrote this in 1961 and was only 30-years old. THIRTY? I also observed that it was in the 1960s when she wrote it? Wow did that throw me for a loop? I had always assumed it was something produced during the Victorian Era by some elderly lady. Was I ever wrong!
I was born in 1959 and grew up on the farm through the 1960s and early 1970s. I remember Vietnam, hippies, great music, and war but the last thing I thought anyone was thinking about was growing old. Because of the war, I think more people were obsessed with trying to live each moment to the fullest and not about getting old. I was fortunate to date a wonderful man in the late 1970’s who just happened to have been through the end of the Vietnam War (yes – war, not police action – grr). He was warm, caring, quiet, and a mess (mentally). The last thing he thought about was tomorrow. He was consumed with yesterday and just getting by today.
- Times change.
- Things change.
- Thoughts change.
- Life goes on.
I have chosen to print up my own copies of the two saying listed above, laminate them (yep one of my many crafting toys – woohoo), and hang them right beside my bed so that every morning I get up, and every evening I go to bed they will be the first and last things I see. My hope is that they will remind me to keep pushing forward and there is something to look forward to today/tomorrow.
Feel free to print off copies for yourselves.
(Sunrise – sunset: Funny the different emotional reactions they cause even though they look similar.)
You can also check me out at: https://helbergfarmstories.com/ for fun stories from our farm.
Paraproskodian sentence for this post:
“Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.”