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.”
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.