West Bloomfield resident Jessie Tashjian Macri has taken to writing limericks to help pass the time, which her son, Jeff Tashjian, said is “kind of an interesting twist I don’t think any of us would’ve expected.”

West Bloomfield resident Jessie Tashjian Macri has taken to writing limericks to help pass the time, which her son, Jeff Tashjian, said is “kind of an interesting twist I don’t think any of us would’ve expected.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Resident uses limerick writing to help get her through the pandemic

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 23, 2020


WEST BLOOMFIELD — When West Bloomfield resident Jessie Tashjian Macri picked up a copy of Reader’s Digest earlier this year, little did she know at the time how much it would come to impact the quality of her life.

It was around January when she saw something in the magazine that got her attention.

“They had a picture, and they wanted you to make up a limerick to go with the picture,” Macri said.

She decided to give it a shot.

“From then on, I started writing limericks,” Macri said.

A limerick is a five-line poem with a strict rhyme scheme.

When Macri first started writing limericks, it was before the national awareness of the coronavirus.

Since then, the country and the world have gone through dramatic changes, including many people being quarantined in their homes.

Most are now free to roam. But for Macri, it’s not quite that simple.

She lives in a senior home, and in order to protect residents, the complex where she lives has employed strict safeguards.

According to Macri’s son, Jeff Tashjian, residents in the senior facility are isolated from their family and friends. Family members are not allowed to go inside to visit with residents.

Meals in the dining room have been “shut off for months.”

“They get their food delivered to them,” Tashjian said. “It’s a very unfortunate situation, especially at this point in your life, when you’re really trying to enjoy this time that you’re there. They spend a lot of money to live in this type of care. It’s unfortunate that they’re not able to enjoy it to the full extent.”

Despite that, Tashjian understands the reasoning for the restrictions.

“They’ve got (to) be careful because they could lose lives if they were to lift it,” he said.

The distractions many have relied on during the pandemic aren’t as easy for Macri to access.

“It is much different than the situation that I’m in, or a lot (of) people are in, where she’s got a little flip phone; she doesn’t have the internet; she doesn’t have the same things that a lot of us have recoiled to and used as a way to escape from this,” Tashjian said. “And now, they put her in her apartment, told her she can’t come out; she can’t intermingle. … (Poetry has) given her a tremendous outlet.”

As tough as things have been, writing limericks has helped Macri get through the pandemic.

“I’m all alone in my apartment, and it gets pretty lonesome,” she said. “I’ve found this to be a fun thing to do. … The virus has put a stop to everything, but it created something for me that I felt was necessary, and it has brought me pleasure, because I get a big kick out of it if I come up with something I think is kind (of) cute.”

Macri has written about subjects such as her family, the coronavirus and the help she has received from staff at the senior facility.

She has two sons and a daughter. She attended Northwestern High School in Detroit and worked as an assistant to a senior audit director prior to retiring.

Macri married twice, and both of her husbands have passed away.

“I just think about things,” she said. “I think about different things that have happened in my life, maybe, or that are happening right now, and I write about it.”

Her venture into limerick writing isn’t something Tashjian saw coming from his mom.

“She’s not a puzzle person; she isn’t really interested in flat board, cardboard puzzles; but yet this limerick thing is almost like a puzzle for her of words,” Tashjian said. “That’s kind of an interesting twist I don’t think any of us would’ve expected. … She’s telling stories in these limericks; she’s telling us (a) story about our family, and sometimes in a way that we’ve never heard it before.”

Not everybody will turn to writing limericks as a way to fight loneliness and the pandemic, but Macri does think others should also “have some interest that they can focus on to make them a little happier.”

“Everybody has to find a niche in their life that will keep them busy,” Macri said. “This could be called a hobby, even. Everybody has to have something to focus their life on, and not just feel sorry for themselves that they’re up in years.”

Macri said she never imagined she would be doing anything like this.

The journey she has been on is one that has been “quite rewarding,” she said.

“When you’re alone, you’ve got to make your own life, and you’ve got to stay happy, because people don’t like to be around sad people,” Macri said. “I have made some new friends here, and every day I try to make another one. And that’s my life.”