I went to the funeral of my Uncle Delos this last week. He was a very good man who loved and served other people his whole life. His wife, Betty, was his greatest love, and when she died about ten years ago, his life was lonely and empty.

Delos kept himself busy to keep from thinking about the void he felt in his life without Betty. He raised a big garden, including a large raspberry patch. He didn’t need most of the food he raised, and gave almost all of it away to others. He spent even more time doing service. If anyone was sick, needed a visit, or could just use a friend, Delos was there.

But then his life took another downward turn. His health started to deteriorate. His mind was still alert, but he physically couldn’t do all the things he had been doing. He had to give up growing his big garden, and he couldn’t visit others anymore without someone to take him. It was at this point that he went to live with his son, Brent. Delos loved to read and learn, and he still spent time doing that, but he missed being out doing the type of work he loved and visiting people, but even worse, he missed Betty more than ever.

One day, another one of his sons, David, called. “Dad,” David said. “There is an Agriculture show up in Idaho. Would you like to go?”

If Delos was anything, he was a farmer. Once a person is a farmer their heart never leaves it behind. The thought of seeing the newest tractors, combines, and other types of modern equipment was exciting. He happily accepted the invitation.

On the appointed day, Delos was awake early, even earlier than he used to get up to milk cows. He was dressed and waiting for a couple of hours before David arrived. Once Delos was in the car, they started the three-hour drive to Idaho. There were two things that Delos liked to do as he traveled. He liked to read road signs and comment on them, and he liked to tell stories.

“Oh look at that. Welcome to Carterville, population 315. By the looks of things I’m sure that they must have also counted the cows to get that number. Hidden road. Ha ha. We found it, so it’s not too hidden. Oh, hey! Look at that. Dave’s Burger Barn. I remember when Betty and I were first married. I took her with me to go fishing and we stopped there to eat. It was a lot newer place back then. Burgers cost fifteen cents. I bet a person couldn’t find a burger for that price anymore.”

As they traveled along, David listened to his father read signs and tell stories. Most of the stories in one way or another brought back memories of Betty and the times they had spent together.

When they arrived at the agriculture show, David pulled the wheelchair out of his car and helped his dad into it. David wheeled his father to every exhibit. Delos was like a child in a candy shop looking at all of the new equipment. He wanted his picture taken next to a tractor so everyone could see the size of it compared to his wheelchair. As the day was coming to a close, Delos, even though he was tired, was reluctant to leave.

As they traveled along back to Brent’s house, Delos didn’t read signs or tell stories. He was just quietly thinking. After some time traveling in silence, Delos spoke quietly.

“You know, David, I can’t wait until the time I can be with your mother again.”

David had a sense of humor that he had inherited from his father. He chuckled slightly and said, “Dad, what if Mom makes it to heaven and you don’t?”

Delos might have been old and slightly infirm, but his mind was still sharp. He simply laughed and said, “That’s okay David. If I don’t make it to heaven, I’ll just come and live with you.”

Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at [email protected]; or visit his website at https://www.darishoward.com