Watching the recent Peanut Proud Parade move around Blakely's old Courthouse Square got me to thinking about the things that are really important to small-town citizens, our fellow Georgians and, dare I say with trepidation, a vast majority of Americans.
Leave it to such a place to figure out these matters.
Blakely and Early County obviously hold peanut farming in high esteem, hence the weekend celebration. There were "peanuts" dressed in various attire all over town and signs in nearly every place of business and at entrances to town. On the day of the third annual "Peanut Proud," samples of peanut products were ubiquitous including those delicious grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Yes, grilled. Do not say "yuck" until you have tasted one.
But it was during the parade that I was struck with the things we hold dear. There were the usual school bands and Scout troops marching around the square. There were floats with groups of children and adults from various church and civic groups, as well as convertibles with politicians and beauty queens -- our U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop among them. There were old cars and riders on horseback. Dozens of our beloved war veterans also shared the limelight. All of these things are certainly important and showcase slices of small-town life.
But the float that gave me the sharpest nudge was the one from the Early Memorial Nursing Home. This float was all decorated and carried some of the residents who were able to ride. What a profound way to remind us that these people represent our most precious commodities and should be treated as such. They are the ones who made this community what it is today and us who we are today. Oftentimes it is so easy, when aging and illness remove our loved ones from their homes, for us to remove them from our list of important things -- and people -- to attend to.
However, it is our absolute duty to continue to pay them the tribute they deserve, as the float in the parade did. The nursing home staff works hard every day to meet the needs of each resident. But they still found the time to prepare the float and take part in the parade. They also took those who were willing and able outside to view the parade as it passed the nursing home. Surely we can do the same thing by taking time from our "busy" lives to still recognize the importance of our elderly citizens.
I am learning this firsthand, as my wife's mother has recently become a resident of a nursing facility. Even though her body continues to fail her due to ravages of the debilitating muscular disorder known as ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease, she is still very much alive with things to share. It is important that she has good memories of her community and we have good memories of her.
The nursing home float won second place in the parade competition. But in my book, they should have won first place just for the precious cargo they were carrying. Cheers for Early Memorial Nursing Home (and the esteemed peanut).
Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.