By Holly Pitas

“Warning …I shall sit on the pavement when I am tired….and learn to spit…”

I laughed out loud! Who knew an old woman would ever think such a thing.


Circa 1989, browsing greeting cards in a gift shop in Woodstock NY, I discovered this charming poem by Jenny Joseph. Although only in my 20’s and ‘old’ seeming so far away, I bought the card as a keepsake because I found the poem clever. Little did I know that in just a few years I would be working with elderly people, open my own Adult Family Home and meet some real life women (and men) that exemplify the daring woman in this poem.

Framed and hanging on the wall in the kitchen of the Adult Family Home, I read it almost every day for fun, and inspiration. It reminds me to focus on the spirit of their personality. The body may age but spirit remains ageless. People living in an older body continue to house the same, full spirit that has been their escort throughout their entire life.

Been there, done that.
Nothing much surprises the elderly; they’ve already encountered most everything. The great peaks of joy and heartbreaking sorrow that surprise and evolve us all during this thing called “Life”. It’s amazing to witness elders as they embark on each new day, fresh with gracious courage and displays of perseverance. They cleverly invoke the witty outlook of Jenny Josephs “Warning”.

What about you?
Continue reading and see who you may  recognize ….

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.

Jenny Joseph