Opal Bridges has faced a lot of things in her 95 years in this world.
And just six years ago she faced something brand new without blinking an eye. At age 89, she boarded a plane, alone, and headed to see her son Ricky, who lives in Pennsylvania.
“Ooh I like it,” she said of the experience. “I wasn’t nervous.” She said that with her pacemaker, they take her right on board in a wheelchair, bypassing security. “It’s been smooth sailing,” she said.
She enjoys it so much that nowadays she makes the trip once a year, where she trades some of Georgia’s hottest months for some relatively cooler ones in the north.
While there, she visits places within driving distance like the Great Lakes, Niagara Falls and the Amish communities. She also looks forward to a big fireworks display each year on the Fourth of July.
Back home in Madison County, she now lives with her daughter in Comer but visits the senior center in Danielsville five mornings a week. The folks there love hearing about her travels and appreciate her expertise in quilting.
Opal Whitfield was born in neighboring Franklin County and moved with her family to Madison County when she was 10. She married George Bridges and the couple had six children – five boys and one girl. Her son, Jerry, served as the local U.S. Forest Service ranger until his retirement. George died after 27 years of marriage.
Besides being mom and homemaker, Bridges went to work as a seamstress in local sewing plants like Blue Bell in Comer. She retired, for a few months, at age 69 but decided it wasn’t for her. She went back to work at Ila Sewing Plant until it closed 10 years later. After this second, enforced retirement, Bridges started visiting the senior center where she spent her days quilting and enjoying the fellowship of others.
She also enjoyed the exercise equipment and was declared an exercise “champion” for several years running.