The Old Iron Bridge
This time next week the Mrs. and I will be enjoying time with my mother and family back home in Allegan, Michigan. We’re planning to be there from Friday-Monday and will be staying at a bed & breakfast up the road from home.
One of the primary focus points in Allegan has always been the old 2nd Street iron bridge. It’s one of the oldest remaining iron bridges in Michigan built in 1886 and is still in use today. For all its history, the bridge is now part of a waterfront park and the city uses it in all their marketing brochures. It’s now a tourist attraction to the town and a symbol of Allegan history. Everyone who’s lived there remembers crossing the bridge.
To me, that old bridge stands for more than just an historical marker or tourist attraction. I have many memories crossing that old one-lane bridge in the winter being able to see right through the steel beams below. It’s also the bridge many of my family, who lived on the other side for years, used to cross the Kalamazoo river to shop, work, and share their lives together. My dad even worked in an auto-shop right next to it for a time when he was young.
It’s interesting to me how buildings, homes, even town squares like the one where I live now in McKinney, unite us together. The community shares memories around one place that build on each other; generation after generation. In the same way, that old iron bridge united one community in Allegan, we too can become an iron bridge to help unite each other. For many families, there’s usually one person who becomes the iron bridge, helping to keep communication open, plan family meetings, and be the one who is always there.
My family’s iron bridge growing up was my grandmother. It was she who worked to have us together every holiday, kept the lines of communication open between siblings, and be the rock who was there whenever anyone needed someone to talk with. When she passed, it left a hole in many of our lives. For me, it’s one lesson I’ve learned and now am trying to fulfill in my family, but in today’s world where we all live so far apart, it’s challenging.
I have friends who I can point to with no hesitation as the ones in their family who are the iron bridge. The Mrs. is an iron bridge in her family as well. She is always thinking about them, calling them, praying for them, and going to see them whenever she can. Truly, she is the iron bridge and I love her for that.
Next week will be our vacation for 2018. We haven’t had time together and need to see Mother. It should be especially beautiful this time of year with the fall colors on the trees. I’m hoping to spend some time with her taking pictures of the colorful leaves along the river by the bridge and by Lake Michigan. More importantly, I’m looking forward to spending time with Mom.
Tonight, if you’re that iron bridge in your family, I want to commend you and encourage you to keep at it even when it seems like no one seems to care. Over time, the love you share, the time you spend, and the effort you make, will shine through many generations and be remembered. You are the iron bridge that your family unites around to share memories, to be encouraged, to feel loved, and even to laugh together, and that is something to be very proud of…
Love always my friend,
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