When my youngest was between the ages of 5 and 7 I can remember going into work and telling my co-workers “The Andrew Story of the Week”. If you have kids you know how entertaining they can be at that age and every parent likes to share the stories. They are just too funny to keep to yourself. I began keeping them in a journal and I would advise (and have) anyone else with children that age to do the same. As I look back now I see I started it one month before his 5th birthday and stopped (for whatever reason) almost a month to the day after his 7th birthday.
I don’t know why I stopped. It wasn’t like he wasn’t/ isn’t still entertaining. I can tell you an Andrew Story of the Week almost every week, even now; and he’s 20. When he sees this he is going to so proud of me, just like I am of him. Love you Andrew!
Anyway! I was out yesterday evening with the idea in mind to get some pictures of the sunset. I had been editing my bridge pictures so I thought while I was out I would go into Deer Rapids (a community on the river just outside of town) and take a picture of the Swinging Bridge. I had a good shot of it years ago but I never kept the original and it has been compressed so mercilessly I doubt it would be print worthy at this point.
Everyone has stories about the swinging bridge. A lot of them probably not fit to print but mine is pretty docile and best of all its funny.
When I was married to my second husband Cliff we used to go fishing and camping a lot. On the weekends when we couldn’t camp we would often go to Deer Rapids and fish off the bank or the low water bridge. Now if you don’t live around here you might not know what I am talking about but if you do you recognize these bridges easily and you probably have your own story.
The purpose of the bridges was first and foremost to get over the river into or out of the community of Deer Rapids during high water or flooding. The swinging bridge provided a high enough bridge that you could walk across it to get home or get out. You’d usually leave your car on the one side then walk across the bridge above the river. Often when we expected the water to “get up” we would go to the bridge and see the residents parking “on the other side”. In the morning they will drive their second vehicle (whether that be a car, bicycle, truck, four-wheeler, tractor or even a lawnmower!) and park them on the community side then walk across the swinging bridge (brave souls that they are) to get to the other side.
A couple of years ago they replaced the low bridge so it wouldn’t be as low anymore. It made sense but they got rid of the low water bridge and the opportunity to sit there on a Sunday afternoon with your line in the river, but that’s another story, and it’s not this one.
So there I was face to face with the swinging bridge. Both of us were a lot older, since the last time I stared it down.
It was in 1997 and Andrew was five, soon to be 6 and the state had recently upgraded the swinging wooden bridge in Deer Rapids. We had noticed the progress each week as we went to the low water bridge or fished off the bank. Soon after they finished Andrew informed us he wanted to cross it. I looked at Cliff with surprise and fear in my eyes and told Andrew he would take him. Cliff spoke up and said “We’ll both take you”.
“What!? Why the heck is he saying that? Why do I have to go across that bridge!!?” my brain was screaming. “It’s high, it’s rickety, and it swings! That darn Clifford Miller always uses the “he’s your son” card when it suits him. P’s me off!” I silently fumed. But in keeping with our united parenting front I sat silently a small smile barely parting my lips. My brain was in full action mode though, as I schemed how I would use my feminine wiles the next day in order to stay on the ground and cheer them on above me. Smile.
The next day when we got to the bridge Andrew went in front of me and Cliff fell in behind me. We each stepped onto the bridge; Andrew stepped on first, his 6-year-old body barely causing a flutter. He asked “Is this bridge going to fall?” Cliff told him to look up at the big sturdy cables but Andrew was too busy watching his feet. I stepped next and you could feel the bridge sway.
As the weight from the three of us shifted, so did the bridge. I kept quiet even though I was not happy about being there. By the time Cliff was fully on board Andrew’s focus on his feet was intense. He began to mutter with each step “I’m not ascared. I’m not ascared.” as we made our way across. I was right behind him and his bravery and determination made me proud and took my mind off being so ascared myself! Almost midways he had enough, he turned and in an instant was leading us back the way we had come. Neither Cliff nor I protested we just followed. He continued his “I’m not ascared” chant until he reached the solidity of the landing at which time he announced with a large sigh. “I’m really not ascared now!” and then he skipped down the steps.
We got in our truck and crossed on the lower water bridge. Andrew looked up at the high bridge and its sturdy cables and said “I think I can go all the way now. I see the big cables.”
“Another day, Andrew, Another day,”