Warning, Wearing Purple

 I was going to put out the last episode of my series The Curse today, but when I saw the Wicked Wednesday Prompt – Purple – this was the first post that came to my mind.


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 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.

By Jenny Joseph

Wearing Purple

This was my Mum’s favourite poem as she grew older. When she died I asked her best friend to read it out at her funeral. (We also played Neil Diamond songs, her favourite.)

I always remember my Mum wearing bright colours and as the years passed by she often wore purple. Although she was far too much of a lady to spit.

Mum loved wearing this purple scarf. Today it is my favourite scarf.

Her parents came from reasonably privileged backgrounds.

Gran was very well-educated. In those days this was quite unusual where women were concerned.

As a child Granddad attended an extremely posh private school in Paris. The family were part of the in-crowd, his mum’s portrait hung for a time in the Louvre.

Receiving a very LARGE inheritance as a young man, my Granddad met and married my Gran. It was a true love match but they lived such an irresponsible lavish life, that they actually spent all their money by the time my Mum was born. So she was never rich but was always rather refined.

My Mum was unique and I loved her!

I always read with interest what other bloggers have to say about their parents.

Marie writes beautifully about her Mum’s life and death. I do have a few regrets regarding not spending enough time with my own Mum when she was old and frail and wearing purple. I was bringing up my children and life seemed so very busy. Another regret was not being with her when she passed.

Eye’s Dad died recently and she posted a very poignant comment about finding a poem he had written at his house. This threw me back to the time shortly after my Mum’s death when I was clearing her flat. I came across a letter she had scribbled to a friend but never sent. Written a few weeks before she was admitted to hospital.

The letter described how wonderful her son was and how fortunate she was to have him. My brother, adopted like me, lived nearer to her and without any children of his own was able to visit more often. There was no mention of me or my children. It was as if when she penned the note we did not exist. Mum was very involved with my kids so I knew her mind was playing cruel tricks on us all.

I wept, and felt momentarily like I’d been stabbed. Then I quickly remembered seeing her the day before she died when her lucidity that afternoon quite shocked me.  We talked about my daughters and happy times together. That final day we were vividly real in her mind.

My Mum’s death is something I have got used to but cannot imagine ever getting over.

So many memories.

Thinking back to my school days makes me smile. Mum was so glamorous and never one of the crowd. I would get so cross with her for standing out. I wanted her to be frumpy, like the other Mums. As I grew up I became proud of her individuality and dress sense. And purple suited her.

I celebrate my Mum for so many reasons. after all she chose me 😉

Wearing purple for her was not decadent, it was liberating.

#333 Purple

21 thoughts on “Warning, Wearing Purple”

  1. At least you can remember her fondly. That poem makes me think of almost the freedom of age. Less worry about pleasing others and more about doing what you want. Like wearing purple

  2. A very thoughtful and moving post May. My mother died last year and memories of her are always popping into my mind. I loved the poem, which I’d never read before. xx

    1. I am sorry to hear that CP – would love to hear about her – and glad i have introduced u to the poem 😉 xx

  3. I know what you mean about not getting over your mom’s death. It’s coming on three years, and it still feels like yesterday to me. That is really a great poem. Thanks for sharing! 😉

  4. Such a lovely post. I wrote one about the women in my life a few years ago, my Gran, Mum and my daughter. They are all such important people in my life. You Mum sounds like such a wonderful character and definitely had a very interesting up-bring of her own


  5. I really enjoyed reading this post May and it is a lovely tribute to your mum. It is always fascinating to learn more about other people, so thank you for such a beautiful and honest post. I have always liked this poem and what you have written fits the prompt brilliantly ?

  6. This is a beautiful post, May. My dad died 16 years ago, but I still have my mom. But I know that when she’s gone, it will be a crushing blow. I haven’t convinced her to wear bright purple, but she might choose hot pink when she gets older (she’s only 58 now).

    And I will definitely wear purple when I’m old…with purple hair and purple shoes and purple jewelry. 🙂

  7. This really touched my heart, May. I don’t think I can or will ever forget my mom, and as I feel now, I don’t think that ever there will be a day I don’t think of her. But, I know it will get easier to handle the pain. I will keep on sharing my ‘journey’ with working through my grief…

    Thank you for sharing this part of you.

    Rebel xox

  8. Hey May -as ever you have given the topic your own special twist! I love that poem too – I discovered it after my Mum had died, but I am sure she knew about it and purple was always one of her favourite colours. The last photo I have of her – she was dressed all in purple, no hat, although she did like wearing them. There was one my brother forbade her from wearing when she picked him up from school, he said it would make him feel sick with embarrassment! She didn’t care – she was who she was and she certainly dressed with great style. I remember she bought a beautiful basque when she was in her 60s for wearing under filmy/lace blouse, she said it made her boobs behave like ‘kittens in a basket’!
    There was a woman (much like yourself) who wasn’t afraid to be sexual!

    Your mum sounds a smashing woman, and we all remember how special you were to her (she chose you) – I am very glad you had a lovely relationship and that, right at the very end, she had a wonderful lucid day to remind you of how things had been.

  9. Beautiful post May. I know that poem well and I suspect there is a good deal of purple in me even when I’m not wearing it.
    It was very thought provoking reading what you wrote about your Mum. I can remember thinking “I’m an orphan now” after mum died – dear old dad having predeceased her by 25 years. Then when her sister died last year I realised I was the matriarch of the family a term that made me rather uncomfortable until I decided to do it on my own terms! Therefore I laughed ruefully when I read about the spending of the inheritance- which is really what I’ve been doing over here in the UK.
    Once again thanks for sharing this post I’m sure she’d be well proud of her choice in you!
    Xxx Indie

  10. Thank you for sharing this May, I found it really moving as I don’t have a particularly good relationship with my mum, it’s not bad, it’s just…absent. Your mum sounded fabulous and what a wonderfully interesting family history. I love the poem too. X

  11. I remember this poem being very popular when I was younger. I 100% want to be the old lady wearing purple, and whatever other colours I can manage all at once too! My Mum didn’t make it to old bones, as my nan used to say, so it is an everyday hope of mine that I do get to be old and outrageous. Sometimes the things that went before us can weigh heavy on our minds I guess. Wonderful post May, I enjoyed it very much x

Comments welcome

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.