My friend Milo


Milo Magrew is pictured in Barb McKeever’s sunroom during one of his visits many years ago.

Milo Magrew is pictured in Barb McKeever’s sunroom during one of his visits many years ago.


Photo courtesy of Barb McKeever

Every small town has one. It’s a person everyone knows, if not by name, by sight. In our town it was Milo. Many never knew his last name, but everyone knew Milo. He was a large man who always carried a shopping bag. He had calendars and all the newspapers including the Wall Street Journal. I never knew if he read them but he carried them everywhere he went. He had a route he walked around town nearly every day. That route included our house.

We have a large sunroom on the back of our house. It is cool in the summer and is continuously heated by a wood burner in the winter. Milo used this very room as a resting place on his daily routine. He never stayed too long – just long enough to chat a bit and rest with a cool drink in the summer or warm cocoa and cookies in winter. A sandwich was met with warm approval. Milo had health problems and learning disabilities, but in my book he was top-notch.

Many had difficulty understanding his speech pattern, but I had no problem at all. He was my friend. One particular day, Milo was not feeling too well. He had not come to the house for a few days and I was concerned, but in he walked and I was relieved. As we talked, he asked me if I would miss him if he died. I told him I would miss him terribly. You could almost see his mind working … “someone would miss me.”

As I watched him, my mind wandered back to many conversations when we talked about Jesus. It was not a difficult thing for Milo to know and accept Jesus Christ. No hangups or complications; just childlike faith. “Would you cry if I died?” Milo said to me. I told him yes. “Would you send me flowers?” he said. I thought for a moment and because I was always truthful to such a special and very innocent, childlike man, I said, “No, Milo. I probably wouldn’t.” He looked at me and said if you like someone you’re supposed to send flowers to the funeral. I told him, “Milo, you are my friend and I like to give people flowers while they are living so they can enjoy them.”

He said I had never given him flowers. I told Milo that when I had given him lemonade on a hot day or cocoa by the fire, those are my flowers to him. I could tell he couldn’t understand, and most people wouldn’t because I walk to a different drummer. But that’s OK because the Lord knows my heart.

I had housework to do that day so I excused myself and got busy with my cleaning. It was much later when I heard Milo’s voice call for me. I had forgotten he was still out there, so I went to say goodbye. “Mrs. McKeever,” Milo said, “I’ve been thinking about what you said and I didn’t want to leave without saying … thanks for the flowers.”

Barb McKeever

Urbana

Editor’s note: Milo Magrew was a well-known character around Urbana who could recite historical statistics and details of local sports’ teams accomplishments. He was memorialized by local residents as “Urbana’s No. 1 Fan” after he passed away. A 1940 UHS football team photo shows Milo seated in front of the team as a young boy.

Milo Magrew is pictured in Barb McKeever’s sunroom during one of his visits many years ago.
https://www.urbanacitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/36/2019/03/web1_milo.jpgMilo Magrew is pictured in Barb McKeever’s sunroom during one of his visits many years ago. Photo courtesy of Barb McKeever