Like Riding a Bike


[Panels & Rust; Somerville, MA 2015]

Yesterday I handed over my bike, Olivia, to my daughter. My sixty-fifth birthday gift to myself, Olivia cruised the busy streets of Somerville only a handful of times. Fo no matter how earnestly my younger friends assured me that Somerville had become a bike-friendly city, I never overcame my fears, my overpowering sense of vulnerability, to enjoy her.

So now my daughter will. Now my daughter can transport her daughter (in a helmut and super-safe bike seat) to daycare along the bike path half a block from her house on an olive bike as classy as her namesake.

Still . . .  I’m reminded of a wonderful piece about aging —and about its challenges and uncertainties—written by my writing student, Irene Ficarra. Irene recounted how, every summer, her family had rented a little place near the ocean for a week and how, on the last day, room by room, her mother would carefully sweep out a week’s worth of sand and grit and family debris and then, room by room, shut the door, telling the children they could no longer play in the now-swept room. All these years later, I am still moved by what Irene, in her mid-seventies, wrote next: she likened those shut-off rooms to beloved activities, like ballroom dancing, no longer accessible to her. Aligning herself with the little girl who’d been resentful when her mother forbade her to enter those cleaned rooms, she wondered if some of those shut doors in her own life might have been shut off too soon.

I so understand Irene’s questioning—because so much about growing old is not instinctual. Like learning to ride a bike, once you’ve noticed a pattern—Whoa! I get tired faster, now!—you will never not recognize this New Old You. It’s incorporated. Literally. Your body gets it. You cruise. (You accept, submit, surrender.)

But, oh, the tottering, the wobbling, the bruising, skinned-knee moments before you figure this stuff out!


[I will be joining Quakers from all over New England for our yearly gathering next week. So next week’s post will be August 7th.]




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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very dearly special and dearest and precious sistefriend who you are For Always so, so very much! Wow, thank-you so For Always for this great gift and a blessing of this fun and inspirational blog post article of yours, sister! I love this! I can just envision how happy your daughter will be getting your cool and sharp bike, and riding around with her little daughter! What fun and how fun! Patricia, you have given me inspiration! With my many physical disabilities and I have other disabilities as well I can’t right now unless a miracle of healing change happens for me ride an outdoor bicycle. I used to when I was younger! I had such, such fun! I do have an indoor stationary exercise bicycle which I am trying to be really good about riding, sister! It is a little hard climbing up on it to ride but I take it slowly and carefully as I get on and off of it. I mainly use a wheel rollator to get around and sometimes just my two canes. I can walk a tiny bit on my own power but I can’t get very far without my wheel rollator walker. The wheel rollator walker works better for me than even the two canes do, sister. Also, I am For Always on my never ending quest to lose weight and to eat healthier. I am a larger woman-not in height but in weight and this is my For Always ongoing battle(SMILE!!!!!!!) I promise, sister, that I won’t give up ever on losing much weight and eating healthier with more exercise-I’ll keep trying really hard, sisterfriend!!!!!! I must learn not to be such a true couch potato(SMILE!!!!!!!)

    I so love all of this grand blog post article, sister! I notice for me at my age of 53 that I can feel the signs of getting older(SMILE!!!!!) Such wise words, “Accept, submit, surrender.’ I love this, Patricia!

    Patricia, may you, sister, and all of the wonderful Friends from all over New England have a very inspirational and blessed gathering! I am praying so hard and thinking such heartfelt, loving, and caring good thoughts for each and every one of you, sending positive energy all of your way!!!!! And may all of you have such great fun and fellowship as well, sister!!!!!! Please have a very terrific and thrilling Tuesday, and may all of your days, Patricia, be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my precious white sister, Patricia, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my dear sisterfriend, with Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always my sister Christian,

    Your Christian lesbian black sistefriend For Always in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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