This is the first of a series of posts on the subject of women and aging. I have the sneaking suspicion that this series may be the reason for this blog's existence.... Time will tell.
From the first time I read it in the early 1990's, I loved the poem, When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple. I was aware that I was too young for the part then, but I decided that, when the time came, I would be an old lady like the one described in the poem.
It reminded me immediately of a lady who went to my church when I was little. I don't remember her name. In fact, I never knew anything about her. In the early 1960's, she was probably in her mid to late 60's. She was a little wiry lady who never walked, she marched. She marched into church and sat in the front row. She marched up to the Communion rail and marched back again. She marched out at the end of the service. She was always in a hurry. Other church-ladies moved quietly and slowly. Nuns seemed to glide [they must teach that in nun-school, sort like the runways exercises on America's Top Model]. This lady moved through her world like she owned the joint.
Other details I remember about her: She drove a Corvette. She wore mini-skirts (not really, really short ones but her skirts were above her knees, which was something of a scandal). She wore a big pink knit hat with giant sparkly sequins. She wore bright red lipstick and red fingernail polish. She had well manicured nails.
Needless to say, almost all the good Christians in our church trashed her something awful. The kids laughed at her because she was different. The mothers despised her because she was unfeminine, she didn't "act her age" and she didn't play the church-lady game. Three strikes, you're out, Toots. For most people being on the outs with the Church-ladies would have been a frightening thing. I don't think that lady noticed. And if she did notice, methinks she would not have cared.
I thought she was the second coolest lady in my world. (I'll write about the coolest one soon.) I would have loved to get to know her but she never slowed down long enough to talk to anyone, and she was apparently way too busy to participate in the church in any way other than regular Sunday attendance. Nevertheless she made a very strong impression on this good [ahem] little Catholic girl. I don't remember thinking that I wanted to grow up to be like her, but the idea must have seeped into my psyche somehow. At any rate, she made a lasting impression.
When I read the "Purple" poem the first time, I immediately thought of that lady. I made up my mind that when the time came I, too, would wear purple and revel in being old. I'll never be a Red Hat Lady (I'm not a joiner and I HATE the thought of dressing like other people), but I relish the thought that I finally have the opportunity to begin to grow into the sort of cool old broad I have always admired. It seems as though I have been waiting my whole life for this. I hope I can pull it off!!