Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ON FAMILY ~ Practice Wearing Purple...


At the age of 45, writer Regina Brett wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer listing 45 lessons that life had taught her thus far. As a breast cancer survivor, many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Five years later she added five more lessons rounding her list up to 50 and turned her popular list into a book called God Never Blinks. I found her list to be entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking. I thought I would go through each of her lessons learned and write about how that lesson has or has not come up in my own life, now that I am 40 and feel old enough to have finally learned something.

"Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple."
~ LESSON #23

In case you are not familiar with Regina's reference in her lesson to "wearing purple," let me first share with you the poem entitled "Warning" by Jenny Joseph that she alludes to:

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.

I think of my mother whenever I read this poem. I shared it with her the first time I read it and told her that perhaps she could stop practicing so much right now ;0) My mom doesn't give a hoot what anyone thinks of her behavior.

She likes to talk to random people in elevators to break the silence because she thinks it is weird that no one ever speaks in that environment.

She found it hysterical to wear outlandish Halloween costumes to work each year when I was temping in her company and tell everyone that she was related to me.

She had no qualms about telling our waiter that I told her I thought he looked like George Clooney. Who wouldn't want to know such a compliment?

Her goal in life often seems to embarrass her daughter in public. But really she is just trying to teach me to lighten up and live a little instead of worrying about funny looks from strangers when I want to roll my pants up and wade in the fountain with the little kids on a hot day.

And for the record, she looks terrific in purple.

14 comments:

Julie said...

Your mom sounds totally cool :)

stacybuckeye said...

Your mom sounds like fun! I have a friend who I love so much. When I looked at the reason why and I discovered it was because she put herself out there and didn't hold back. I try to be more like her every day. Sounds like you have similar inspiration in your mother.

Susan said...

Molly, I think I would like your mom very much! I'm not into flashy dressing, but I am pretty gregarious. I used to make my kids squirm when I talked to anybody and everybody...cashiers, waiters, tellers, people in elevators...yep, sounds like we would get along great! :)

Jenny Girl said...

Your mom is my kind of girl! I totally agree. Don't get me wrong, there is a time a place. When I give a presentation I wouldn't do it in a costume, but as sson as I get back to the office it is party time!!! Life is too short :)

Matty said...

My parents are just the opposite. Status quo, comply with social expectations, don't rock the etiquette boat.

Me? HA.....I take every opportunity to embarrass my kids when we're out in public. Come to think of it, Mary holds her breath when she's out with me because she never knows what I'm going to do next.

Tami said...

OMG! Your mother must be related to my husband!! From the moment he became a father nearly 21 years ago, he has made it a priority to be as embarrassing as possible. And he was pretty embarrassing before that! He asks EVERY waiter/waitress about the soup du jour hoping that just once they will somehow know that he is seeking a quote from Dumb & Dumber as a response. So far it hasn't happened.

Hubby and your mom should really do lunch.

Julie said...

My mom is VERY social. She talks to cab drivers, bus drivers, people in line in stores. She once travelled across the USA to go to school and travelled by greyhound. The people on the bus thought that she was a greyhound social planning employee!
On a different note - in our town there is a group of women called the red hat society. You have to be 60 and you have to wear a red hat to all functions!

Kaye said...

Your Mom sounds awesome and just my kind of gal!

kaye said...

she sounds like the perfect mother. I love that poem, it is the first I've heard it. I just tried on a "fiery" red skirt, loved it and chickened out when it came time to purchase it. I love bright colors but often avoid them because there is so much of me--but after reading this post I might just go back and get it.

Jess said...

As long as I've known your mother, I've thought of her as my "second mom." I'm proud to call her my mother-in-law... she's an amazing and wonderful lady!

Lin said...

She sounds like my kind of mom. :) I think life is too short to be serious and not laugh at least once a day. And it has to be a good laugh too--not a chuckle.

Love the poem.

jehara said...

That is an excellent poem. It's been a favorite since high school. I think I've been practicing eccentricity since adolescence. ;)

Kristi said...

I think that I should be a little bit more like your mom! Thanks for sharing the poem and the terrific post.

Kathleen said...

Your mom sounds like my kind of lady. The older I get the less I care what people think. I am definitely practicing these tips already!