Thursday, March 1, 2012

Honorary Red Hat

My  neighbor, Thelma, is one of those wonderful people you love to know.

She is one of those rare women who doesn't let one single moment of life pass her by. As I get to know her better here in Mesa, our winter home, she becomes more dear to me.

She is involved in anything and everything fun. From the park's Kitchen Band, to morning exercises in the pool, to card games, to participating in melodramas, to going to McDonald's in a clown costume after riding her golf cart in the Mardi Gras parade....  If there is fun involved, Thelma is in the middle of it.

Watching her makes me smile.  She balances out the introverted, reflective side of me. I always take life a bit too seriously for my own good.

Yesterday, I was her guest for lunch at a Red Hat Ladies' get-together.  She invited me a week ago as she thought it would be nice for me to get to know other women in our park. 

And so, for a day, I was an honorary member of the local Red Hats!

A global society, Red Hats International was founded in 1998 and is open to women who are age 50 and beyond. Its mission is to support and encourage women in their pursuit of fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment, and fitness. It strives to reshape the way women are viewed in today's culture.

Well, if there is fun involved, I can see why Thelma is part of this group.

A nicer group of women you would never meet. Warm and welcoming, it was an honor to be in their company. All wore stylish outfits of purple and elegant red hats.  While at lunch, a waiter came to our table and asked "Why are you all wearing red hats?"

Thelma replied, "Because we can do anything we want!"  He said, simply, "Oh."  But we could tell he didn't get it. He walked away looking rather perplexed. 

Too bad he wasn't the one to take our order. In true Red Hat style, one woman ordered breakfast of eggs and pancakes, and a glass of Chardonnay. Half of the group ordered wine, because a real Red Hatter pays no attention to the time of day for drinking wine.

The group bases its philosophy on Jenny Joseph's wonderful poem, Warning. The opening lines of the poem read:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me.
I do believe this particular group's main purpose is just getting together once a month as friends and enjoying each other's company. Going to lunch is their main activity. They do it well, and I was proud to join them.

The leader of the Red Hat group is referred to as the Queen.  Well, in this case, guess who is the Queen? 

       ....Yes, that would be Thelma.

Thelma made sure I had a red hat.

Every woman should have a Thelma in her life. I'm sure glad I do!