My Wobbly Bicycle, 145

Posted by on Dec 20, 2017 | 5 comments

A Christmas Letter:

IMG_1793Plates of cookies and baskets of scones have appeared on the bench outside our door. Our ceramic bowl is full of Christmas cards, some with letters enclosed. I come to this season, shoulders heavy with my personal backpack of social inadequacy. We haven’t sent cards in what, three? four? years. It has been so long since I baked cookies that I talk about “my” cookies as an historical event.


Thank you for the cards and the cookies and the scones and the rum cakes. You are providing sustenance for a lost soul who stumbles through December, always uncertain how I feel about it, yet feeling obligated to react one way or the other. Bob Cratchet is carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulders, Scrooge has gotten his comeuppance, candles are lit, bells are ringing in my head, a call to attention—now, now, now the year is at its peak, now it is shifting and falling forward into what we call the next year, now it is carrying the debris of the past like a dirty snowball. Now it is picking up fresh snow. I can’t keep up with it.


The past year, no, the past two years—no, the past almost five years—have been no picnic. There was a year’s hiatus after Jerry’s first back surgery and before the second became glaringly necessary. Otherwise, there’s been chemo & radiation (me), great pain (Jerry), surgeries (Jerry), and recoveries. Jerry is now able to walk okay, but not for any distance, and with a strong limp. And a cane. He’s headed back into physical therapy in January to see if that situation can be improved.


IMG_1797How can one tell of difficulties without sounding like whining? There is no whining here, I assure you. We have adjusted, we have gone to movies, we have had dinner with friends, we have raged and sighed together over politics. We have eaten scones.


My new book, The Woods Are On Fire: New & Selected Poems, came out last March, and I have trotted off to various places to do readings. I frankly didn’t feel I had the energy for it, but I had committed myself and it has been fun, once I got cranked up. I have a few more scheduled for this spring. I have a lot of new poems and essays, some published, some not yet. The book of essays that my friend Sydney Lea and I had published as an e-book (Growing Old in Poetry: Two Poets, Two Lives) will be out in print in March, from Green Writers Press, with a new chapter on Politics. As you might guess.


Politics. Don’t go there.  But, as Colbert observed recently, “What’s that? I haven’t seen it in so long I forgot what it looked like. Oh, there it is, a glimmer. A glimmer of hope.” Well, I’m paraphrasing.


Jerry is, as always, resourceful in his limited condition. He’s now a hospice volunteer, spending many hours on the phone at the Munson Hospice House calling families of the deceased, offering help and just someone to talk to. He’s also been quite politically active. We just hosted a huge fundraiser party at our condo for our Michigan district’s Democratic candidate for congress. And Jerry’s back to working his volunteer shift at the State Theatre as their popcorn chef.


Our grandchildren are being, as they should be, an accurate measure of our own oldness.  Two are out of college, three are in college, one will start college next year, two are in high school, and two are in middle school. I could say more, but to even begin would turn this missive into a bound volume. Suffice to say, they’re all varying degrees of okay, taking into account the expected angst-nesses of growing up. They’re lovely. We love them all.


Jerry and I, being considerably limited in the travel department, since he can’t walk far, have decided to take a cruise. Something I swore I’d never do, but I figure it will be like a movie. You sit still and the world comes to you. We’re trying a fairly sedate Caribbean cruise this spring, to get out of the northern cold, and if this works out, we’ll head to Europe or Alaska next time.


IMG_1798Before I end, I want to say something about friends. We have needed them, and you have been there. Over the past years we have had so many meals brought to us, so many offers to help.  You’ve been tangible evidence of the network that holds us all. Thank you. We’re warmed by your love. Except for my feet. They’re still cold. But I have a nice little heater for that.


  1. Christmas does seem to get harder each year. But thanks for the reminder that there is much for which to give thanks. Among them, my long time friendship with you.

    • Dear friend, I am sorry to hear that you also feel that way about Christmas. I think of you with such warmth and closeness, no matter how far away you are.

  2. Real, timely, warming, newsy…..all from your exquisite pen. Merry Christmas, Fleda.

    • Thanks, Jane. And Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Fleda and Jerry. Happy Christmas and love to both. I am the same re cards. It’s hard to do everything.

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