‘Flower lady’ finds freedom with her distinct ride
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Sue Bacon likes to dance. She likes to hang out at the Pourhouse bar. She likes to ride her bike, covered with fake flowers, in every parade she can. On Monday mornings, she likes to protest war with her friends.
She’s also 85.
“I don’t act my age,” she said. “I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.”
That made her laugh.
White haired, bright eyed, she was talking from a table at the Village Smithy. She seemed so awake. She kept waving at people passing by and recognizing folks in the restaurant. She hasn’t been in Carbondale that long, but she’s known here. She’s part of the local fabric. She’s the “flower lady.”
But how many people know any more than that?
Born in Connecticut, she was a die-hard East Coaster for most of her life. As a youngster, she went to good schools, thanks to her grandmother’s connections, but was never rich. She married Warren Reynolds and had her first child at 21. Over the next two decades, she had eight more.
“I was a sexy Episcopalian. He was a sexy Catholic,” she joked, explaining the big brood.
When she was 45, Warren died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She still has no idea how she raised that gaggle of kids on her own. She had to deal with all those little league practices and adolescent issues and a son who was growing pot in his room.
But she made it through.
They moved from New Jersey to Vermont, where she learned to ski at 50. Ten years after Warren died, she met Howard Bacon, who’d eventually become her second husband. Strangely, or perhaps perfectly, his last name was the same as her maiden one. For years, her driver’s license read “Suzanne Bacon Bacon.”
They settled in a retirement community in Florida and, from time to time, traveled the country in an RV. Sue hated Florida, but she loved Howard. They were a great match.
When he died of emphysema about five years ago, four of her five sons came to see her. They told her, point-blank, that she was moving to Carbondale. That’s where one of her boys, Bobby, had an empty condo. She had pneumonia, and it was the dead of winter. She didn’t know a soul in town, except for her son and his wife. But she went along with it.
“I’ve learned to roll with the tide,” she explained. “You have to. You can’t fight City Hall all the time.”
At the beginning, she felt stuck. She didn’t have a car (as per the request of her kids) and was cooped up in the house. Then, Bobby showed up with a present. It was the three-wheeled red cruiser she’d soon become known for. The effect it had was instant and lovely.
“I was free as a bird,” she said. “I could go anywhere I wanted.”
And she does. Because of the flowers ” which are now accompanied by pro-Obama stickers ” everyone recognizes her. She’s created a whole life for herself. She rides her bike around and boogies down at music festivals. She volunteers with Senior Matters and loves living at Crystal Meadows, local senior housing. Though she only shares her place with her cat, Cat, she’s not lonely. Actually, she sounded liberated.
In her words, “I’ve always had others depending on me for something, and now I’m depending on myself.”
She doesn’t have to answer to anybody.
Not everything is wonderful about being older, of course. She’s lost sight in one of he eyes due to glaucoma. Every once and while, as she talks, she’ll get frustrated by losing her place in a story. She forgets names and dates “religiously.” But she can also use her age to her advantage. She’ll overhear someone’s conversation and then jump right in ” and they’ll let her. She likes people, she explained, and she loves learning their stories and helping them if she can. These days, she has the time and environment to really listen to what they have to say. In Carbondale, she gets to be this well-loved figure, part of so much. That’s not a luxury she wants to give up anytime soon.
“I enjoy life,” she said. “And I’m going to be very disappointed when I die. Because I’m not through.”
She was still smiling. It really did seem inevitable that the “flower lady” has lots of dancing and such left to do.
Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111
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