When I Am Old

Several years ago, when I retired from teaching at my elementary school, the staff got together and did a little “tea party” for me as they usually did for retiring colleagues. They gave me a doll that had a special meaning, one which I had never heard of until they explained it to me. I’ve kept that doll with my Mexican marionettes and I think of my friends at work fondly when I look at it. This poem by Jenny Joseph explains what I didn’t know about retirement at that time.

When I Am Old

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that 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 am 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 pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats
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 will have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise 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

I guess I now belong to the Redย Hat Society. One thing I’ve learned is that retirement is the best-kept secret ever! It has been a blast.

44 thoughts on “When I Am Old

  1. Yay – welcome to the RHS!!! Everytime I read this poem it reminds me to be that I no longer need to fit into any mould except the one of my choosing ๐Ÿ™‚ And purple is my favourite colour!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. great doll! love the poem… and that bit about practicing Now… sounds good! hmmm. well, you know, it is trendy to have violet and red in one’s hair these days. I can always say, “I’m just practicing” Thanks for sharing this Anneli ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was a very thoughtful gift. I’ve tried my best to follow the idea of that poem. It’s just occurred to me it would be a nice thing to have hanging on my wall. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, you are certainly not old! And you’re not re-tired. I tell my friends who have changed jobs that they didn’t retire, they reHIRED themselves for a new passion. You are no longer an elementary school teacher, but you are a writer and an editor and a blogger and wear red and purple and whatever color you darn well choose. This is a wonderful time in our lives. Go for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. LIFE is a surprising and mostly delightful adventure, what’s next is anticipated , sometimes planned
    And always moving on. Friends like you make our lives happier.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. She is so cute and happy! Retirement is a special treat and my parents were lucky to do this in their fifties, having put their 30 years in and leaving teaching (Mom) and NASA (Dad). As I look at my future, unless I meet someone who saved and has a retirement fund and he likes me a Lot ( ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I shall be working during my golden years. Oh well! I’m sure it will keep my mind active and hopefully, sane. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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