A few years after their mother died, Siobhan Lyons and her four siblings decided to honor her every year by celebrating her favorite poem. It’s called “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, and it starts, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.”
So every year, the siblings don red hats, wear purple, and text photos to one another in their far-flung locales. “It’s a much better way to remember her than to be mopey,” says Lyons, executive director of the Irish Immigration Center of Greater Philadelphia.
Lyons is usually somewhere in the Philadelphia area with a group of seniors having lunch. Her sister is in Australia, two of her brothers are in Singapore, and one brother is in London.
“Now it’s gotten to be a competition,” said Lyons, wearing her red hat and purple dress at her senior’s Red Hat luncheon at Maggie’s on the Waterfront, part of the center’s outreach to Irish seniors in Northeast Philadelphia. The event was sponsored by Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon and attended by 120 seniors, most of whom were dressed in the red-purple theme.
Lyon’s job gives her an edge in the family competition. “The first year we did it–2010–everyone showed up at the regular Wednesday Immigration Center lunch in a red hat and they did a story on it in the Irish Edition. It was hard to beat that!”
You can see photos below from Red Hat Day as well as from the Immigration Center annual picnic on Sunday, held at the Bon Air Fire Company in Havertown, where the firefighters delighted the children who attended by squirting them with the fire hose.