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My Friend Joe...

Story ID:8640
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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I wrote this about 12 years ago and posted it on 2theHeart.com. I also included it in my book,"The Way We Were".

My Friend Joe…
By Chuck Dishno

A few years ago I was having coffee at the local coffee shop. I sat at the counter beside an elderly gentleman named Joe Rebish. I had seen him sitting on the same stool for several weeks, always by himself.

I struck up a conversation with him and he seemed delighted to have someone talk to him. I asked him if he had lived here long (I often do this as my grandfather, Silas, was an early day pioneer in the Big Hole Valley and I love to hear stories about him).

He said you might say that he had lived here quite a while, about 95 years. This took me aback as he didn't look to be much over 70. He told me he was 97 and was born in Butte, Montana and had lived here since he was about 2 years old.

This first encounter with Joe started a lasting friendship and I looked forward to seeing him each morning for coffee. Joe lived by himself and drove his own car to the coffee shop every morning. He was very proud of the fact that he just had his driver’s license renewed until the age 103.

Each morning we would talk about the past and his life in Dillon. He was especially proud of his three daughters, Regina, Mary Jo and Esther. He told me of what a great cook his wife of many years had been and how he missed her after her death. Joe was quite the ladies' man too. I would watch him when a woman came into the coffee shop. His eyes would follow her every step. He also had the waitresses trained - as soon as he sat down, they would pour his coffee and then put two creamers in it for him. He said that was a privilege of getting old. And what a sense of humor Joe had. One morning I was bragging to a lady that he had just celebrated his 101st birthday and she came over and gave him a kiss right on the lips. Joe really enjoyed that but when I told him she was Canadian, he said that was OK, but with the currency exchange rate the kiss was only worth about 60%. Another time, he asked me if I could fix his electric blanket. I told him that I didn't know much about fixing one but suggested he get a big woman to sleep next to and keep him warm. He said, "That would be fine, but just on the North side."

When his old car finally quit, he bought a new one and asked about an extended warranty. Now if that's not confidence at 100 years, I don't know what is.

When Joe gave up his new car because he had scraped it on his carport, I said I would pick him up every morning and we would still have our coffee hour. This worked for over a year but when Roz and I decided to spend the winters in Yuma, Joe was broken hearted. He said he wished he could hide in my trailer and go along. I told him that this would be OK with us but there would only be Roz, the cat and myself. He said maybe he could just be another cat. I told him that Sam, our cat had been neutered and Joe said, “Oh hell, then I don’t want to go.”

Although I met Joe late in his life, I would not trade those few years for anything. I certainly gained from the encounter and I will never forget him.

A few years later, my friend, Joe, died peacefully in his sleep at 102 plus years. I know that Joe was a deeply religious man and I have no doubt that we will meet again sometime.

I like to think that when he went through the Pearly Gates and St. Peter gave him his wings, the first thing he asked was, "Do these things come with an extended warranty?"

God bless you, Joe. Thank you for sharing your life and humor with me and enriching my mine. I miss you. I look forward to sitting on a Heavenly cloud with you, sipping Heavenly coffee. I will be enthralled by more of your stories while you are trying to guess which Angels have the biggest wings.