Town reunion brings back memories of youth

By Joan Clayton: Local columnist

Last weekend my brother, my husband and I attended a community activity that gave me a reassurance of wonderful people who love God and this country.

All three of us at one time lived and grew up in Melrose. The celebration and reunion of those who once lived and loved in that little town filled it with hugs and camaraderie. The parade touched my heart. Main Street was decorated up and down with “Old Glory.” People of all ages stood on either side, and children squealed with delight as the parade passed by.

People filled the park to greet friends of yesteryear. The band and concession stand soothed the crowd under the shade of the many tall trees.

As I watched the crowd, I felt home again. I witnessed a piece of the Americana that I grew up in. People who loved others while living, helping and enjoying life came to the park. To me they were icons of what America is made of … all ages of red-blooded American people demonstrating loyal friendships and love.

My grandmother’s house still stood on the corner a block away. My grandfather’s gasoline station was all nailed up, but I was back in my childhood, drinking “belly wash” as he called soda pop. I saw myself pulling sunflowers, saying, “He loves me … He loves me not.” If it didn’t come out like I wanted it to, I cheated.

It had to be love … God’s love. I just know that on Sunday the beautiful churches I saw had to be filled with songs of praise for the many blessings of the residents.

Yes, the town I grew up in has changed, but the people haven’t. They are neighbors who look after each other.

I came away with excitement and enthusiasm. I find the same thing in this wonderful town and the surrounding towns. We are Americans, and we will come out all right. Despite trials and disappointments, we pick up the pieces and go on with life.

Why? Because we have a God who takes our burdens. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV).

We will make it just like my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did. Yes, they had problems, but their faith pulled them through. “LORD, even when I have trouble all around me, you will keep me alive. When my enemies are angry, you will reach down and save me by your power” (Psalm 138:7, NCV).

So I am determined to love. Regardless of calamities, love triumphs and overcomes. You can do that, too. The Greater One lives in you and me. When we realize what Jesus has done, we are overcome with gratitude. He brings peace that follows the paths of love. Love keeps you and me on the road of everlasting joy.

Let’s give our wounds, pain, heartaches, worries and mistakes all to Jesus. We cannot handle them, but He can and does!

I am determined to love because Jesus loved me enough to die for me. His love for me will guide me safely home. You will find me dancing through the Halls of Heaven singing love songs to the One who went to the cross for me.

May all of us meet each day with hope and love. Every town has wonderful people, and they make the world go around.

The next morning after the celebration I awoke with this statement in my spirit: “Whatever happens, I am a child of God and I’m thankful to be an American.”

You can say that, too, and that makes a happy world!

Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is:

joan@yucca.net