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It’s A Tough Bridge To Cross, But She Did It!

, , , , , , , | Related | October 11, 2021

My mother suffered a terrible crash in the early 1990s that should have killed her but, for whatever reason, didn’t. It was off a low-water bridge and as a result, she went through a phase for over a decade of being terrified of driving over bridges. It lessened with time, but the one bridge that still terrifies her to this day is the bridge over the Mississippi River from Arkansas to Tennessee, which is unfortunate because she would have to drive over it to take me to visit my father as a child.

As I grew up, she refused to let me drive the trip because it was best for her to remain in control of the car while going over the bridge. But when my father died, we had to bring home several antiques in a moving van, which one of us had to drive, so she agreed to let me drive the trip for the first and only time.

On the way to the funeral, about a half-hour from the bridge, Mom is on her phone, reading an article about the history of the area, and she starts reading it aloud to me. I figure she’s doing this to distract and calm herself, so I tune her out and focus on driving. I get over the bridge and get to the eastern outskirts of Memphis when she finally looks up again.

Mom: “Uh… where are we?!”

Me: “We are [miles] from Nashville.”

Mom: “Did you cross the bridge?”

Me: “Kinda had to, yes. You were reading to distract yourself; I didn’t want to bother you.”

Mom: “I was just enjoying the article; I had no idea we even crossed the bridge!”

And then, on the way back, we’re trying to make the trip in one go because I have to be at work the next afternoon. Mom is driving the moving van, and we’re coordinating through our phones. About two hours east of Memphis, she calls me and asks me to pull over at the next gas station.

Mom: “You’ll have to call in to work; we need to stop for the night.”

Me: “Why?”

Mom: “The bridge is coming up and I just need a night’s rest. It’s dark and I’d rather it be daylight when we try.”

Me: “No, we’re going on, and we’re crossing tonight.”

Mom: “What?!”

Me: “It’s two in the morning. It’ll be four when we get there. There’s going to be no one driving. The bridge is lit up. We can get on the inside lane and go as slow as you need, because there will be no traffic to slow down. If you can’t see the water, you can tell yourself you’re driving on solid land. It’s going to actually be easier. If we stop, we stop in Arkansas.”

Mom: “I don’t know…”

Me: “Look, you can get a motel room for the night. I’ll see you at home.”

We cross the river, on the phone with each other the entire way, and we finally pull over at a large truck stop in West Memphis.

Mom: “I can’t believe I never thought of that before! That’s the easiest I have ever made that trip!”

Me: “Yeah, I have a lot of anxieties and phobias, and that’s how I always force myself past them.”

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