I have been spending time recalling my life experiences, with gratitude that we weren’t faced with some of the things young people face today.
I remember the heavy wooden one-lane bridge that was always scary to cross. From about 5-years-old I would feel my heart skip a beat when driven to Hickory Tree by Grandma and Pap. They made weekly trips into town for shopping and often took me home with them. I loved being with my grandparents but always dreaded crossing the old bridge.
Each time the bridge came into view, Pap had to blow the horn to alert anyone on the other side that he was about to cross. At the end of the one-way-at-a-time bridge was a church on a hill. I focused on looking at the beautiful church and it helped me. Once we crossed the bridge, my peace of mind was restored and my heart quit racing.
Having faced the church and crossed over the bridge, Pap would take a left turn on the bowl-shaped road to their country home. I couldn’t express it then but riding alongside the deep green water with its smooth, sparkling river rocks peeking through, creating waterfalls, I had the feeling of traveling back in time. I imagined passing little Will, a boy in his overalls, fishing all alone with only his mutt of a dog keeping him company.
Visiting in the country where it was extremely quiet, Pap would entertain me with magic tricks or challenge me to a game of checkers. I always appreciated the fact that Pap played to win, because even as a little girl, it would have insulted me if he let me win. I always recognized when someone was just trying to be nice and let me win and that was no fun.
Grandma would take me to the well where the milk was kept cold; she’d take me berry picking or to the garden to gather pole beans or other veggies. We’d take the pole beans to the porch and sit and break them for cooking or canning.
In my 40s, I returned to the South Holston River area to attend the funeral of a dear uncle that I hadn’t seen for many years but always carried a memory of him as a hero in WWII. I was being transported, along with others, to the church where the funeral was to be held. I didn’t know which church until we rounded a curve. To my utter amazement, it was the church that had greeted me so many times as a child. It was a serendipity moment when it came into view. Lacking the fear experienced as a little girl, I saw, standing in front of the church… the old bridge. It was coming apart and was closed to traffic, but still open to my heart.
Kitty Maiden is a staff writer for Seniors Today.