You have learned that students are among the most special people in my life and that I treasure the bonds that have held us together throughout the years. Of course, the loss of any of them is felt very deeply and makes me more aware than ever of how very fortunate I have been to have had them in my life.
I was privileged to know Nealene Smith Bradley from the time she moved here in 1942 until her death last week. She was but a year old when her parents and siblings moved here from Duran; thus, I had the opportunity to watch her grow as I grew and later was fortunate enough to have her in class at Tucumcari High School. We remained in touch throughout the years and enjoyed fairly frequent visits.
Attending the funeral services for her was one of those difficult tasks that this friend and teacher had to do, but one that had to be done to honor her. Naturally, the memories from those 68 years of having known her filtered in as I sat in the funeral home and continued throughout the drive to Quay Cemetery. I could see the toddler, the student, the mother, the friend, and could recall some of our visits. Although Nealene was a quiet student, she seemed to feel at ease when we visited in the later years and was eager to share in conversation and laughter.
The graveside services really touched this country person as only such rural services can. The friends and neighbors who gathered there to support the family were also supporting each other. As we stood there amid the beautiful mesas and sang “Amazing Grace,” I realized one more time how fortunate I am to be from this county and to have so many friends who know and love this county as much as I do. Their warmth and love filled the air just as much as did the words they were singing.
I know that most of those people were just as moved as I was and that they were remembering happier times. We were carrying on a major part of our pioneer heritage as we visited, as we said our farewells to Nealene, and as we expressed our sympathy to family members. Somehow the sadness seemed more poignant amid the beauty of nature and the lowing of cattle.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.