Over the years we've been blessed with several good mailmen. In the 70s there was Bob Dewberry, a friend of my dad. Our dog used to greet him with a single bark to say "the mail's here!" In the 80s and early 90s we had Skip (I never knew his last name). He was getting older, so he transferred to a business route with less walking. For a few years we didn't have a regular carrier because no one wanted the route. We never knew when our mail would come.
In the late 90s Dennis Whiteside took our neighborhood. We met him when we had a complaint about mail being left when we were out of town despite requesting the mail to be held. He introduced himself, and said in future to leave him a note on the mailbox or find him on the route, and he'd make sure our mail was held. Dennis had a set routine --- one week he'd start at one end of the neighborhood, and the next he'd go the other way, just to break the monotony. If our mail came before noon on Monday, it would be that way all week. (When he was on vacation we never knew when the mail would come.)
Last year Dennis was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to quit work. He planned to come back, but it spread to his legs. His daughter and grandson moved in to help with his care. In gratitude for his service, our neighborhood association collected money and bought restaurant gift cards for the family. They were very appreciative.
His replacement, Eric, has kept us updated on Dennis' condition. He seems to be as helpful as Dennis, not like some I've heard of who do as little as possible.
Thursday Dennis lost his fight with cancer. We'll never again see his friendly face as he crisscrosses the neighborhood. So here's to Bob, Skip, Dennis, and all the good postman who have passed to the great Sorting Office in the sky --- may they never be marked Return to Sender: Address Unknown.