There were many things about my job at Mars Hill College that I loved. I miss the people. I miss the connection I felt with fellow alumni. I wish I hadn’t felt so tired and restless, but I did. Whilst working, I ran into a poem written by an alumna, Beth Bridges. I found a couple of the blog entries I had written about her:
“Today I read a poem by a gem of an alumna from 1951 and I was extremely moved. Moved to the point that I wrote her a letter, typed out her poem, made it into a poster for my new office, and will probably send it to my friends and family if I get her permission. What a gem, who wrote about Mars Hill in a way that I’ve longed to be able to.”
\am-uh-RAN-thin\ , adjective;
1. Unfading; everlasting.
2. Of or like the amaranth flower.
3. Of purplish-red color.
To most who have had the pleasure of soaking up knowledge in Cornwell, climbing the walls of the infirmary, or eating a famous Miss Virginia omelet, Mars Hill College is a place full of people who leave an amaranthine mark on their lives. I recently referred to the poem I found that was written by an alumna from 1951. Beth Bridges brought tears to my eyes as she beautifully delineated what I’ve longed to be able to clearly say. I wrote her a letter and she wrote back within the week and included a stack of pictures as tall as my tape dispenser. I hope to fly to her home in Ireland one day and sip tea with her as we tell each other our Mars Hill memories. In the meantime, enjoy:
To Bailey Mountain, and ‘The Hill,’ With Love
By Beth Bridges
Once, years and years ago-
Or, it seems, only yesterday-
I saw my first mountain.
Not particularly high or grand,
But to a Florida child
Something so perfect-
I climbed up its autumn slopes
Panting and straining my aching legs
For what seemed hours,
To lie, finally stretched out and breathing hard
In the lap of its highest grass meadow.
This was the beginning-
The first day
Of an enchantment. From then on
For a timeless time
I tasted a joy
So piquant, so delicious
I never tasted the like of it again.
Dear old mountain,
I think it was you-
Your permanence, your dignity-
That gave such radiance
To all the bits of life
At your feet.
Half a century may seem a long time
To fireflies like ourselves
Who light up a nano-second
With our glint.
We come and go,
But I’m still here to say
Those years at your feet
On that small patchwork of learning–
Those buildings we called “The Hill–
Were the essence-
The very definition
In all these fifty years
I’ve never solved the mystery
So I won’t try,
But I know
As sure as anyone knows anything
That all of life that followed
Was hung upon the framework
Of that time
We were both Florida girls who were blown away by the mountains. This shared awe gave us a wonderful connection. Beth graduated in the same class as my grandmother. I learned that the picture of a building on campus that I had seen hundreds of times in her house was drawn by Beth. We became pen pals and sent each other memories about The Hill, we sent photos, and she gifted handmade greeting cards and bookmarks. I looked forward to receiving mail from my new friend in Ireland and she wrote that she felt the same way. It was a lovely weekly tradition.
I received a letter from Europe yesterday and my coworker and friend let me know. I had an instant fear that it would include the details of Beth’s passing. I asked her to open it for me and I, unfortunately, was right. Beth passed away on May 8th. I knew she had been ill. I wish I had written her in the past year, but I had not. I thought of her often, and this is a good reminder to never hesitate to let people know we care. She was extraordinary and I know many people will feel the impact of her absence. I know I do.
One thought on “Beth Bridges, MHC 1951.”
I’m so sorry to hear this… but what a beautiful life she led. I wouldn’t mind terribly if my own story was quite a lot like hers.