Happy Old Maid’s Day

Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.
Nora Bertogg, Soprano, Swedish Opera, The Old Maid and the Thief, Photo by Dersu Huber, 2017.

Old Maid’s Day is a joyous occasion for spinsters around the world to get together and rejoice in one-another’s claim to the merry, carefree lifestyle and the complete independence which come with singlehood. And it should be, because marriage, childbearing and child rearing are enough to gradually rid a woman of all the spare time, money and vitality she may have had in those early years when she was as averse to men’s advances as a fox is to a porcupine sting.

I love the summation above which appears on the Days of the Year website concerning Old Maid’s Day.

I am not quite an Old Maid. I did marry but was widowed very early on and still young. I was not able to have children so it was a miracle I ever married at all. Most men disappeared when they found out I was not a “breeder”. My husband however couldn’t have cared less. He loved me and was determined to marry me.

I took my husband’s death very, very hard and grieved quietly for many years. Losing my husband after such a short time seemed particularly unfair as I had a tragic childhood and thought at long last I was going to have a happy life. Despite it all, I was a jolly child. I evolved into a jolly adult but grief still overtakes me now and again as one might reasonably expect.

Then I woke up one day and for all intents and purposes, the grief, pain, regrets and angst of the past were over. I suddenly wanted to start living life fully again. And live it to the full I have. Sometimes it takes time to resolve certain fears to the degree we feel prepared enough to go out there and take risks again.

I have reinvented myself career wise numerous times, moved countries whenever I felt like it and have basically done whatever I dreamed up I wanted to do. Some call me lucky. I suppose I am.

It is art and music — especially Opera — that has given me the safe and beautiful environments I require where I can feel all sort of emotions which I might otherwise bury. For this I am eternally grateful. I adore the people who make it possible — but not in a starstruck way. They are like family to me. We share something quite intimate, meaningful and unique even if we are never to meet.

My life would certainly not be the same without the animals that have coursed their way through it. I am so grateful to the wonderful horses and cats I have given homes to over the decades. They have given me someone to love who loved me back and never hurt me, and  opportunities to “parent” that I would otherwise not have had. Sidenote: Today also happens to be “Hug Your Cat Day”, but I do that everyday.

They say old maids are cranky. Perhaps some are. However, my guess it has more to do with the old part than the maiden part.

As for me, I am not as cantankerous as my great hero Giuseppe Verdi but I am working on it. It’s definitely something to aspire to. And great fun!

Here is a quote regarding women Verdi wrote in an 1857 letter: “Horses are like women. They have to please the man who owns them”. Many, too many, men are vigorously nodding their heads in agreement right now. See what you escaped Old Maids!

Oh, by the way, I go by Mrs Farrell because that is what businessmen have called me over the years and it kind of stuck and become a part of my day-to-day identify — not because I am married. Sigh!

Love you.


The Old Maid and the Thief is a radio opera in one act by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The work uses an English language libretto by the composer which tells a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power. Menotti writes in the libretto “The devil couldn’t do what a woman can — make a thief out of an honest man.”  

Jeez Menotti! Tell us how you really feel.

Updated: Correction of 1857 Verdi quote.

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