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The Last Goodbye

Story ID:9820
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:In Memory
Location:Fresno CA USA
Person:My Pop
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The Last Goodbye
By Chuck Dishno
June 15, 2014

My father, Ed Dishno, who I have written much about was and always will be in my heart, the greatest man I ever knew.

Pop was born in 1884 on a cattle ranch in the Big Hole Valley in Montana.

Pop lost his first wife of 10 years followed by losing his ranch during the Great Depression. I know this hurt him deeply but he never let it show and always talked about the good life he had in Montana.

Shortly after losing his ranch, he met my Mom in Missoula, Montana. Mom was divorced and had two boys by her previous husband. To Pop it must have seemed like a dream come true and a breath of fresh air. It was love at first sight and he soon had his readymade family.

Although I don’t know all the particulars, but it wasn’t any time before they packed up and headed for a promised job falling timber in Oregon. I can only imagine what it was like for my Mom. She came from a fairly affluent family to live in a tent with her two boys and the man she loved who never promised anything more than his undying love and his character. Not once did I ever hear Mom complain about her new life.

When that job ended, they packed up everything and headed for Klamath Falls, Oregon and hopefully ride out the Depression. Pop soon found another timber falling job and although times were hard, he managed to provide for his new family.

When the Depression ended things started looking up. We soon had a new house and wonder of wonders, I was born in 1934.

From the very start Pop was my hero. He doted on me, his only son, and began to teach me all he knew about life. Even though Pop was 50 when I was born, he never let age slow him up. He taught me about fishing, hunting, repairing anything mechanical, the love of nature, and the value of a good practical joke. Pop lived by the Golden Rule and taught me to never cheat you fellow man. I lived for every day with this man, my hero and mentor.

When I was 22 I got married and was soon drafted into the Army. It was hard to leave Pop as I could see signs of his health deteriorating but it was only a two year hitch and it wouldn’t be long before we were hunting an fishing again.

Unfortunately I was stationed just about as far away from him as I could be. I was at Fort Lee, Virginia and he was in Fresno, California. Times were hard on a G.I.s salary so phone calls were few but I did write at least once a week.

I knew Pop wasn’t doing too well and one day I got a letter from Mom saying he was dying from prostate cancer. She wished that some way I could be there. I immediately took the letter to my CO and he said he would do what he could. I had two months to go in my hitch with one month leave.

The CO told me to take the letter to the Red Cross and they might get the ball rolling. He was right and within a week I got a compassionate transfer from the Army to report it Fort Ord, California for my discharge. This combined with my travel pay and leaves let me go home and report to Fort Ord one week prior to my termination of service.

It was a long 3200 mile drive across the U.S. with a wife and 3 month old baby in a 1956 VW but I called Mom and told her to let Pop know we were on the way.

When I arrived in Fresno I immediately went to the County Hospital where Pop was staying. I was devastated to see the terrible toll that cancer had taken on this once powerful man but I tried not to let it show. Pop was lying on his bed, not responding to his surroundings too well, but when I walked in, he sat up and said, “I knew you were coming, Chum, I could hear those worsenwaken wheels going clicity clack all across the U.S.” (a long time ago Pop named my VW a worsenwaken. He said it was the only thing he ever rode in that was worse than walking.)

To the doctor’s amazement, Pop began to improve and within a week he was allowed to go home. The doctors told me it would only be a short time before the cancer would bring him down again but the newness of me being there had worked better than any medicine.

My folks lived in the foot hills about 40 miles from Fresno and I would try to visit him every couple of days. Mom didn’t drive so between my wife and I we took Pop to all his appointments.

What a great time, Pop and I had, remembering all the good times we had hunting and the practical jokes we had pulled. I could see that the newness of me was wearing off though and he was slipping.

I had to report to Fort Ord on May 2nd to process out of the Army. It took about a week before I had my discharge in hand and headed home. When I got there, my wife told me that Pop had taken a turn for the worse and was back in the hospital in a coma. When I visited him, he didn’t even open his eyes but I think he knew I was there.

I would leave my job several times a day to go over to help feed him and give him a shave. One day, I was leaving to go back to work and as I reached the door, I said, “I will be back and see you later, Pop.” As I turned he sat straight up in bed and said, with a wave, “Goodbye, Chum.” He then laid back down and within an hour he was gone. I know that he knew the was going and had to say that last goodbye.

That was 55 years ago and I still think and pray for that dear old man who taught me so much. I know we will meet again in a Heavenly setting where we will relive old times. I am waiting for that first “Hello” from my Pop.

Happy Father’s Day, Pop…In till we meet again. Have your fishing rod ready so we can catch some of those Heavenly trout.