The Detective’s Daughter — Walking the Bridge

Kim in Baltimore still packing away Christmas decorations.

kimspolicehatJanuary is usually a month we spend making resolutions then breaking them. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I put enough pressure on myself daily. It would be overwhelming if I saved it all up for only once a year! Anyway, isn’t each new day, week or month another opportunity to try again?

Some people see the holidays as a bridge that helps them cross over from their past to what awaits them in the future. I’ve had that feeling myself, only in my case it happened before sunrise in the middle of an ordinary week in October.

I had an extremely sheltered childhood. As you may know, I was born with a birth defect that is most commonly called a strangled limb. This stunted the growth of my right arm. I spent a great deal of time in the Children’s Hospital under the care of the brilliant Dr. Raymond Curtis who performed numerous surgeries on me and with the help of braces was able to coax my arm to grow to near normal length.

Needless to say, this caused my family a great deal of stress. My parents and my grandparents, especially my Pop-Pop, fluttered around me constantly trying to anticipate my every move in fear that I would injure myself. Truth be told, I was a bit clumsy. It was difficult to maneuver around with one side of my body being smaller and heavier (with a brace) than the other side of me. For this reason my Nana set up an entire list of things I was not allowed to do. It included no hopping, jumping, skipping and, most importantly, absolutely no running. This meant I grew up never learning basic childhood skills such as riding a bike, roller skating or jumping rope. However, one Christmas my father bought me a tricycle that I was allowed to ride in the living room under close supervision. Once they even let me out on the sidewalk to snap a photo of the event.

All the supervision in the world could not save me from calamity. I managed to break my arm three times before the age of seven. Once from falling off the bottom step (Rule #100 – no sitting unattended on stairs!), again when a folding chair collapsed with me in it (Rule #101 – no sitting in folding chairs!), and finally, even my doll’s stroller was found to be a hazard. I blame Miss Ag, though. How could I have known during a brief time when I was not being watched, and my neighbor Dianne suggested we should race our doll’s strollers, that Miss Ag would choose that particular moment to step outside? Dianne won and I ended up in the gutter with the stroller on top of me and my favorite doll in the middle of Fort Avenue.kimstroller

I never let any of this hinder other things I wanted to do. As an adult I learned to knit, type, and work a pottery wheel. It wasn’t until this past fall I was able to step out of my comfort zone and push myself to do a task I never dreamed imaginable.

There was a Mindful Writers Retreat in Pennsylvania that I attended with my good friend Ramona. We stayed in a lovely lodge and part of the agenda was to rise early each morning to go on a meditative hike. So, being the good rule-follower that I am, I arose before the birds and donned my boots to join the others. We walked silently through the woods waiting for the sun to make its appearance. After awhile everyone stopped and I looked around, but saw nothing that would hinder our path. I asked one of the women with us what we were waiting for. She answered that there was a rope bridge that could only be crossed one person at a time. I tried to see the bridge through the trees and early morning shadows, but saw nothing. Gradually we made our way, chatting a bit amongst ourselves. And then it came into view. One piece of rope strung across a stream. One rope does not equal a bridge. I became panicked. I couldn’t do this, I would surely break something! I was positive there was a rule against this somewhere.

kimbridgeSoon it was my turn, and with beating heart and sweaty palms I took my first step clinging desperately to the tension ropes to keep my balance. With each shaking step, the women around me cheered and encouraged me until finally I made it unscathed to the other side.

Women on both side of the stream were clapping and cheering for me and I felt as though my heart would burst with pride and gratitude. I looked back over the bridge and thought of all the things I had not done out of fear of being hurt. That was all behind me now.

I have a photo of me crossing that bridge on my phone that I look at each day to remind myself that I am capable. No more rules. I am fearless.

Dear readers: What hurdles in your life have you overcome?

29 Thoughts

  1. Heartwarming and inspiring, Kim! Brought a huge smile to my face over morning coffee! The only hurdle for me was not being able to read until I was around eleven. Probably dyslexia or some other learning disability, but we didn’t know about that when I was a child. Somehow I figured out how to decode those marks on paper, and then there was no stopping me. Reading,writing, learning, and storytelling became a way of life. I place a high value on persistence, and I saw it in every line of your blog post. Have a great day! –kate

    1. Dear Kate,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I will agree with you, it’s all about persistence and determination… and maybe we are just a tad stubborn. I am glad you overcame your obstacles. How sad our world would be without the lovely escape of books and reading.

  2. You rock, Kim. I overcame an unhappy marriage ( I will not elaborate further in public). I should have gotten out of it much earlier than I did, but we had these two people called our children and I was fearful of all kinds of things. As it turns out, my sons have thrived, I have thrived, and I’m grateful I finally took that step, as hard as it was.

    1. Edith, a commitment of marriage is indeed brave, but braver still is the decision to take on life alone with two young sons. I’ve met your lovely boys and you have done a fine job. ❤️

  3. Kim, you are very kind not to mention that your good friend Ramona chickened out on the rope bridge! I took a different path, so had a different experience. Yours, I know, was life-changing, and I’m so so happy I attended that weekend with you. *sniffle*
    Hurdles. Like you, my childhood was ruled by rules, and also because of a congenital birth defect. Out of 4 siblings, 3 of us were born with limited vision. I was–am–the one who can see. My hurdle was lifting the burden of guilt to live my own life.

    1. Dear Good Friend Ramona,
      I also failed to mention had it not been for you, I would never crossed that bridge or found myself on that particular retreat at all. You have a remarkable family where you have learned to pull from each other’s strengths. I have seen and heard the respect you have for one another and that in itself is a hurdle most families never quite manage.
      Your loyal friend,

  4. First, when you wrote “rope bridge”, I imagined ropes, not a rope. I would never have done that. Well, I probably would have forced myself and wobbled across with tears running down my face- not the picture of fortitude that you presented above!

    I am very blessed(?) that most of my hurdles have been self-imposed and I supposed the largest one is shyness. As I’ve gotten older, I’m more comfortable with being quiet and when I meet someone I like, my shyness evaporates! Most of my friends would nerve say I was shy or quiet but I do have to work at it everyday.

    I loved this story!!

    1. Thank you, Jacki. Shy? You? You do an incredible job of masking it! I do understand shyness, I too have suffered from this especially in school. It is one that is hard to overcome. I’m glad you and I did and were able to become friends.

      1. Ha! That’s what everyone says- you, shy? But when we met at Malice last year, you were so welcoming (and many others too!) that my shyness went away!!

  5. I remember thinking how brave you were when I heard this story! You do rock. I’m still working on overcoming the hurdle of a lifelong lack of confidence and inability to truly believe in myself. Slowly but surely getting there 🙂 Love you!

    1. Liz, you always seem so confident! Isn’t it surprising how we can pull on these costumes that we present to the world, meanwhile we are shaking inside? They say to act the way you want to feel. I guess we’re doing a pretty good job! ❤️

  6. Kim, thank you for sharing your story. I have to tell you, when we met at Bouchercon last year, it took me a couple of meetings to realize that one arm was different than the other. Your smile is so bright I didn’t even see it. Love your bravery on the rope bridge!

    I can relate to the overprotected childhood. Not because I was blind as a bat, which I was, but because my mother was fearful of every little thing, and we were barely allowed out of her sight. Because of polio I was expected to take a nap every day in the summer, until I was in high school! I also never learned to ride a bike, roller skate, or even swim. So when my best friend invited me to go to her new ranch out west, and told me I was going to ride with her, I asked if I should take “a lesson”, since I’d never been on a horse. Which is how I began riding, at age 55. And learning both Western saddle and English, up to jumping a six-inch high hurdle.

    We are charge of our own destinies. It’s up to us how we choose to grab hold of them, or not.

    1. Karen, I agree completely that we are in charge of our own destiny. I have not been on a horse…yet, but you have definitely given me a new goal to consider. Thank you for the lovely compliment. I hope we meet again soon!

  7. Such a beautiful story, Kim. And reading the stories that have been added make most struggles seem small. There have been three distinct things in my life that have stood out as things to overcome. Finishing my college degree at 40 is one thing I’m very happy I did.

      1. Thirty-seven seems to be a magic age for college degrees. That was certainly one of my biggest challenges.

  8. Kim, what a great story — thank you for sharing it! I am constantly amazed and inspired by the acts of everyday courage that surround us.

  9. Kim–what a great story. I’m not sure I would have crossed that bridge–especially in October. Of course, I’m not sure I would have risen at dawn, either.

    I said to Sherry this fall, apropos of absolutely nothing, that you always seem so comfortable in your own skin. You make everyone around you comfortable, too, to the point where I, at least, forget completely about your challenges. And then, every once in a great while, I’ll see you struggle to hold a large object or with a heavy door, and I’ll remember, “Oh, yeah.”

    Your parents and grandparents may have overprotected you, but they also must have done some things so right.

    1. Thanks, Barb! That is so lovely of you to say. I don’t really put that much thought into it, I just do what I do. I’ve talked to quite a few people who have lost hands or fingers later in life and their ordeal is much more harder than mine. It’s all what you’re use to, I suppose.

  10. Kim, huge props for crossing that bridge. I don’t think I could have done it, though I hope I would have tried. Thank you for sharing your stories on this post–a gift to others for sure. One of my nieces is dyslexic. The amazing school she goes to refers to it as a gift–she processes the world differently. I love that. Thanks for being part of this blog, my friend!

  11. I am so impressed, Kim. I would probably have tried it, but also would probably have fallen in!

Comments are closed.