Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dear Readers,

This story is a revision of a chapter from my unpublished manuscript. It symbolizes a "moving on" of sorts even though it's a look into the past. I dedicate it to all my dear friends and relatives and to my daughter "Kimushkele" (an endearment) in particular who have sheparded me through some very rough times of late, and I am thankful they have chosen to stick by me in good times and bad, especially in the latter when love's mettle is cast into the fiery furnace. If it truly is love as its claimant says it is, then it'll be steeled, strengthened by trial, as it were, but if it had never been the real thing, not only would it never survive the fiery furnace but will in fact run away from such a challenge, revealing that at best it was never more than a mere chimera.

Ben’s Cough: Story of An Act of Trust and Kindness

We seldom hear of the many acts of decency

and loving-kindness that make this world a better

place. In a world ever tending toward chaos, knowledge

of such acts of human decency would renew our flagging

hope in hope itself if we heard about them more frequently.

Ben's mom booked a weekend stay for our family in

Wisconsin. It would be just right, far away sufficiently to make

it seem like a vacation but conveniently only two hours from


Our kids were young then and, as with any family outing,

its anticipation was at least as much fun as all the good stuff

you do after you get there. However, the ride up turned out a

bit bumpy. We had set out in one of two family cars, the one

we thought might afford us the more comfortable ride.

And it was going well until after we had gone about ten

miles from home. An old mechanical problem that hadn’t

arisen in a while arose. We pulled over. Oh, not to worry, my

wife and I knew what the problem was and that it couldn’t be

repaired anytime too soon.

“Okay let’s do this,” she began. “Wait here with the kids at

Dunkin Donuts, and I’ll get the other car.”

“How are you gonna do that?”

“We’ll call the auto club. They’ll tow the car back home and

give me a ride at the same time, right?”

“Yep. Sounds like a plan.”

And it was a good one at that. Two hours later, she

was back driving our other car, we packed the trunk, and off

we went uneventfully to the hotel.

Arriving about 2:00 or so, we checked in while the kids ran

off to our room, put on their suits and hurried over to the pool.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing and having fun.

Hours later while we were asleep at 2:30 a.m., Ben began

coughing and coughing and coughing. Believe me when I tell

you it wasn’t a merely ticklish, sore throat, but an unrelenting

deep hacking. Always a sound sleeper, Ben’s mom … slept. So

did Kimmy, but Ben and I were up.

“Give him some cough syrup, right?’

“Well, we forgot it!”

‘Should be a quick fix anyway, right?’


Ben was diabetic and could not take other than

sugar-free cough medicine, a product not available

everywhere. I checked the phone book and learned

the nearest 24-hour pharmacy was an hour away in

Milwaukee. There just had to be something closer.

Meanwhile, Ben continued coughing uninterruptedly.

Unless I took action quickly, I feared, it might precipitate

an episode of hypoglycemia –a consequence I wished to

avoid at all costs.

So I decided to leave on what became a frenzied mission to

buy sugar-free cough medicine somehow, somewhere at about

3:00 in the wee hours of the morning. I assure you it is not an

easy order to fill.

Grabbing my keys, I got in my car and raced up and down

the local highway until I found a mini-mart at 3:30 a.m.

Although the store was closed at that hour, one could

purchase gas from the attendant seated in a glass

booth. Worried he might sense the transparency of my

smile or even worse call the police, I approached him

reluctantly, feigning normalcy as well I could. Sensing

my presence, the attendant diverted his eyes from his

magazine and looked up-a mien of supreme indifference

etched on his face.

“Uh, excuse me, sir. I know your store is closed, but I have a

sick child at home and am in search of a special medicine.

Might I come in for a moment?" I pled.

“Well,” he paused, looking around and me over, “uh, … okay,

come on in.”

He buzzed me in which he needn’t have done. Under no

obligation to risk his job or put himself in harm’s way, he

would have been perfectly justified had he not done so but

he did! His choice, I prefer to think, was an act of

trust! He took a risk although it is probably true he wasn’t

thinking about any of this at the time. Even more amazing was

the one single bottle of the cough medicine I sought sitting on

the shelf. Snatching it as if there were someone else in the

store looking for the same thing, I paid the clerk, thanked him

profusely, and sped away anxiously hoping my successful

efforts may not have come too late.

Several minutes later, I was greatly relieved to find

everyone exactly as I had left them.

“I got it,” I shouted in a hushed tone.

“Open. Say ‘ahhhh.’”

“But Dad I hate cough syrup,” he protested, hoping I’d

back down.

“Ben, at this point, I don’t really care. Now open,” I insisted.

Notwithstanding his dislike of cough medicine, I

would not tolerate anything less than a fully cooperative

and silent mouth! Ben would swallow it regardless of its taste

which, by the way, he did. Within minutes his coughing

stopped. There was still time left. Together we dozed off.

Alan D. Busch
Revised 7/26/07
Copyright 2007

1 comment:

frumhouse said...

It's funny the things we remember...