Walter and his wife were an extremely close and loving couple while she was alive, and now that she is dead, a part of her still lives on in Walter. Walter thinks about her all the time; everything about the farm reminds him of her and he constantly remembers things she said and did. She is the one who taught him truths like "a ranch is like a house, but a farm is a home" (Chapter 4), and made peach trees grow large and beautiful where no one thought they could grow. Now, even though she is gone, her presence is everywhere, and Walter misses her tremendously. His solace is the fact that she lives on in his heart.
Walter goes to his wife's grave out of respect, to share his big decision to leave the farm and go back to explore the mine. He says that it is to show honor to her, because had she been alive, he would not have made such a significant decision without consulting with her first. When Cloyd, not completely understanding, points out that it doesn't make sense to do that because she is, in fact, not alive anymore, Walter thinks a minute and realizes, "No, that ain't right. Somehow, as long as I'm alive, she is too". He agrees with Cloyd's observation that she is like a part of him still, and says, "People get like that...that's what's special about people" (Chapter 12).