Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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Click on www.SeraphicPress.com

posted on 7/29/2008 2:35:00 PM

by Alan D Busch

My article, "Bitter Harvest", one of two that appear in Ruchama King Feuerman's newly published Everybody's Got a Story, receives a generous comment by writer Robert Avrech in his review of Ruchama's book.

Please read the whole piece at www.seraphicpress.com, posted 7/29/08, but here's the
excerpt ...

"Bitter Harvest reveals the torment and helplessness as a loving father witnesses the unimaginable: his son passes away before is eyes. This story, a wrenching memoir, was authored by Alan D. Busch, long time Seraphic Secret reader and commenter."

As a matter of fact, www.Seraphicpress.com is among the best in the Jewish blogosphere. Thank you Robert!

Monday, July 28, 2008

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Book Review

By Ricky Rapoport Friesem
Book Review Editor
Poetica Magazine

Title: Snapshots In Memory of Ben by Alan D. Busch, Water Forest Press, Stormville, New York$12.95

“The only antidote to the pain of our loss lies in the tenacity with which we remember our children. It is incumbent upon us that we refuse to allow their memories to die.”… Snapshots

Ben (Benjamin) Busch was fatally struck by a truck at the age of 22. This slim volume, composed of brief, intimate glimpses into Ben’s life and the lives of those who loved him, is a father’s sensitive and touching effort to come to terms with this tragic loss.

Alan Busch, an independent writer living in Skokie, Illinois, has written a reflective, sometimes agonizingly candid journal that surmounts its exceedingly personal content to convey universal truths. The text reflects his skill with words, his ear for dialogue, his attention to detail, but above all his profound orthodox faith and his unflinching honesty in confronting the untimely death of his first-born son.

Busch disagrees with the common aphorism that ‘Time heals all wounds’. “Parental bereavement does not heal with the passage of time. It really is best this way,” he writes, and proceeds in Snapshots to confront the pain and etch an indelible portrait of Ben. In so doing he creates an intensely moving image of a father’s love for his son and of the conscious efforts he makes to create and preserve family memories.

“The most effective, lingering and ‘memory-making’ parenting is measured in brief but wondrous moments that, unless recorded, would otherwise be lost as stories unavailable to both present and future generations of parents looking to transform the ‘every day’ into the ‘everlasting,” he writes.

In recording his ‘wondrous moments’ with Ben, Alan Busch has created a memorial that touches anyone who has loved and been bereaved.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Align Right

Dear Friends,

Please find below the latest update of my father's recovery and the beginning of an article entitled: "Stuff My Father Won't Tell Me"

Before I discuss the stuff that my father will not tell me, I'd like to update you on his condition.I'm happy to report my father has been home from the hospital for a week and is doing quite well thankfully. To all the many readers who read my several accounts I wrote while my dad spent thirteen days in the hospital, I thank you.

He entered the hospital dehydrated due to diarrhea, with a urinary tract infection, feverish, with a yellowish skin tone I had seen before when, as a volunteer for the Jewish Sacred Society (Chevra Kadisha) I helped to perform taharas (ritual washing) on bodies before burial. I feared for my father's life when my his wife called me to the hospital. Nearly two weeks later, he came out "swinging", as i have decribed him to several friends-reminiscent of his pugilistic youth. In other words, it appears the Aibishter has other plans for my father Avrum ben Haskel.

Additionally, I wish to thank all who prayed on behalf of my father. He has regained much of his strength and has reaccquired control of his bowel movements. Again I apologize to those whom I may offend by this language, but as I said earlier it was the diarrhea and not so much the cancer that bothers my father. i am not suggesting he is going to capitulate. As a matter of fact, i overheard him tell his brother yesterday in a telephone conversation: "Don't worry Hirshy, I'm not ready to die yet.")

If you're looking to measure a man's mettle, witness how it is he copes with physical affliction (God Forbid). It is ultimately a test of the substance and depth of his dignity. I exaggerate not when I say that my father is the paradyme of a man who survived a plethora of indignities (as do other patients too) not only with his dignity intact but admired by the many family members and friends to whom he provided a remarkable example of stubborn courage.

I wish to cite the remarkable, strong and kind nurses and patient care technicians of the oncology unit at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago and thank them, one and all, who tended to my father when he was at his most vulnerable.(As we prepared my father to leave the hospital, a young woman cancer patient, her head covered by a pretty scarf, walked past us in the hallway. She was leaving the hospital too. Just five steps behind her, carrying several bags and bundles of her daughter's belongings, was her mom whom I had seen on the floor on several occasions about to burst into tears. Whether of joy or tragedy, i'm not sure, but It was a bittersweet instance of absolute devotion a heartbroken mother feels for her daughter. I am very fortunate to have seen this.)

I visit with my father during the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He has come along so well I don't have to tend him much. My father is very independent and fiercely opposed to any assistance now that he is home, and very mobile refusing to use a walker.We spend much of our time talking and playing gin rummy. He tells his story and I listen doing what Ruchamna King Feuerman advises in her latest book, Everybody's Got A Story in which two of my short stories are published. Ruchama advises that one ask his father and he'll tell you his story. Seems like a simple thing to do. One problem though ... there are certain things my father won't tell me. He served in the Army during the Second World War. I do know a few things about what my father did during the war, but there remains a "no trespassing zone". Despite my several attempts to coax him into teling me this stuff, he simply will not.

"So Dad I've a few questions to ask you."

"Okay, go ahead. Ask away."

"I wanna know the stuff you won't tell me ..."

(to be continued ... :) )

Monday, July 21, 2008

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His clothing caught my attention.

Something about it just didn’t seem right. There was no crease in his pants and his pale yellow knit golf shirt and cap were perspiration-stained. He had the look of not being well cared for.

"Good evening, Sir,” I greeted him cheerfully, an elderly man sitting alone in the shul’s social hall. He looked troubled, even sad.

"Good evening," he responded, a faint smile overtaking his noticeably chapped lips.

“I was worried we would not have a minyan. It's nearly 8:00 o’clock now, and I've yahrzeit for Maariv.”

"Oh," I was quick to reassure him. "We'll have a minyan. Please don’t worry about that. Your name is, Sir?” He watched my mouth as if lip reading. “He’s probably a bit hard of hearing,” I thought.

"Talisman, Irving Talisman.”

He almost said "Yitzhak," but stopped short. Maybe he thought I wouldn’t understand. I focused all of my attention upon him.

“Reb Talisman, for your wife, your parents you have yahrzeit?” I asked, inverting subject with predicate, common in Yiddish-accented English. I was trying my best to say in so many words: ‘Hey, I care about you’.

He twisted his left arm with his right hand a quarter turn, revealing six subcutaneous green numerals. He looked up at me from reddened, moistened eyes. Their dark shadows seemed as indelible as that tattoo.

"My parents.” he tearfully whispered, removing a soiled hanky from his pants pocket.

I wanted to take care of this man, to do for him what the rabbis call “ma’asim tovim’, good deeds that help to fix the world.

I figured if I could help just one grief-stricken Jew, make him less sad-or even better, happy for a moment-well, isn’t that what it’s all about?

"This way, Reb Talisman.”

I accompanied him down the hallway to the Rabbi Aron & Rebbitzen Ella Soloveitchik Beis Ha Medrash. We both grasped hold of the door handle. He paused.

"Should we enter? Looks like a bar mitzvah lesson going on."

Indeed there was.

The evening was an especially busy one at shul. The sisterhood was hosting a speaker from the Skokie Park District who spoke about local conservation efforts. The junior minyan was learning mishnayos with the Rabbi’s son.

Rabbi Louis looked grumpy. A long day of meetings no doubt. And to add insult to injury, a ballast had blown out in the shul’s high ceiling. Though ordinarily of good cheer, he looked as if he were about to blow up too.

Reb Talisman and I quietly entered. Seeing that I was escorting an elderly gentleman to minyan, Rabbi saved his upset for the next two hapless fellows who followed us in after we had shut the door.

"Close it!” Rabbi barked at them.

"Abba, it’s 8:05, time for Mincha. We have a minyan," announced Rabbi’s older son who, as it happened, was one of the two who came in after we had. His four mishnayos talmidim followed him in.

I directed Reb Talisman toward the one chair I thought he’d like. It was a comfortably cushioned seat, distinctively but peculiarly pink in color.
It had been the favorite of Reb Helman, the late father of the Rebbitzen.
But when I turned to check on him, I saw he had chosen to sit by the “omed” opposite the Ark.

“No problem,” I thought, “as long as he’s comfortable.”

"Ashrei yoshvei v'secha,” the minyan intoned, marking the start of the afternoon service.

I looked over to Reb Talisman. Seemed fine. One or two recited the Mourner’s Kaddish. Rabbi does too for those who ask him or cannot say it themselves.

During the brief interval between Mincha and Ma’ariv, we learned about the halachos of the 'nine days. Tisha b'Av was just around the corner.

My focus had begun to wane by the start of Ma’ariv. I had been thinking of "Kallah", my bride of fifteen months. We had recently separated. She filled my head though certain I’d arrive home to an empty house. I closed my siddur.

"Maybe she'll pass by," I mused, staring out of the window “or drop in to see me."

I turned to the doorway thinking I had heard a feminine voice.
“Oh … just one of the younger guys,” I mumbled to myself.

"Amen. Yehey shmey rabba …”.

The beis medrash emptied.

I escorted Reb Talisman to his car.I wondered about what I'd say to him or if I'd say anything.

"Good night, Sir," I smiled.

"Good night," he said.

I touched his arm comfortingly and watched as he got in his car and drove off.

I fumbled for my keys, turned on the ignition and fantasized about seeing my wife's car parked at home. I pulled into my driveway, only a block away from shul. Her car wasn't there. I wasn't surprised. I sat in my car for several moments.

“How nice it would have been to share this story with her tonight,” I lamented, "but there has got to be a lesson here."

I opened the car door.

“Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow.”



That was a difficult and lonely time in my life.

It soon became clear to me, however, that The One Above had sent Reb Talisman to remind me others are grieving too and for reasons for more serious than mine. I could do a lot of good if I could but step away from my own tsorris.

An act of chesed brought some comfort, friendship and the faintest of smiles to an elderly Jew. It had been a "yom tov".

Alan D. Busch

Friday, July 18, 2008

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Dear Friends,

please click on this site http://wwwpearliesofwisdom.blogspot.com/ and scroll down to the second posting dated July 9th, 2008. There you will see information about my writing mentor Ruchama King Feuerman, her new anthology which contains two of my essays and some very generous words about my book Snapshots In Memory of Ben.

Thank you,

Alan Busch

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Friends ...

My father has had a bad day. One of two lead doctors told me tonight that he has tried everything he knows, but he DOES NOT know what to do to fix/stop the profound diarrehia ... I ask that all people of good faith daven/pray for my father's recovery speedily! His name is Avrum ben Rose aka Dr. Albert I. Busch.

Thank you,

Alan D. Busch

PLEASE SEND YOUR WELLWISHES TO alandbusch@aol.com or to fitterthanudad@aol.com or write a reply to this blog. I want to be able to show them to my dad.

Where authors and readers come together!

An Update About My Father's Illness

Dear Friends,

My brother Ron and I left my father's hospital room this evening at 10:00. It was a long day, but I'm so pleased to be able to tell you that he is doing better and even, if I may say, well.

It appears that his bowels may be on the mend, Baruch Ha Shem (you may know I do not utter that exclamation too often. I believe one should save that very special utterance for a very special occasion.)

Here, I'll give you an example ... my father, may he enjoy a refuah shleyma, made it to the commode several times in a row today ... BARUCH HASHEM and, as a direct result, he was b'simcha, very happy, with his dignity in tact and let us hope, a healing bowel.

Now you know my father has stage four intestinal cancer and it is that which is killing his body. But he's okay with that ... really! He is. What afflicts his spirit, his dignity, his sense of self is the severe diarrehia. That is what bothers him. My father is the kind of man who cares more about the health and well-being of his spirit than he does a malignant tumor. Yes, he knows his prognosis is not very good.

My father is a pugilist by nature, a fighter-not a mean or coarse man-but simply not given to surrender. That is what enables the rest of us to be and remain so helpful, but make no mistake. The power of “bikkur cholim” is extraordinary. Though progress seems and is often painfully slow, I am convinced it would not only be slower but less progressive were it not for the many visitors who come by. A friend of mine from Jerusalem comented that one is most ‘God-like’ when combining the mitzvot of "kibud av" (honoring thy father) and "bikkur cholim" (visiting the sick). In plain language, it makes the patient feel like a person again.

Hospitalization tends to objectify patients which often, I am sure, tends to slow healing.
I remarked last night-while talking to my brother Ron with whom I shared several drinks and a cigar-that caring for our father was not unlike the palliative effect of holding a baby. Everyone knows that a baby needs to me held lovingly as much as it needs to be fed. Well, it’s the same for those ill or elderly.

Even if the illness is so serious that recovery will not in all likelihood happen, you can be sure your caring presence has increased the happiness of the patient. That is of no little consequence.

One image remains in my head ... last night before my brother and I left for the evening (my father does not want us to stay with him overnight) we "tucked" him in just as would a parent a child. And he knew his sons were there, he was confortable, warm and at ease. Most importantly, he was happy, content, at peace. When I came back the next day, the nurse told me he had had a good, uneventful night.

Baruch Ha Shem!

I sit now in his room. My father is asleep in his chair, and my brother Ron has nodded off while reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Alan D. Busch


from Northwestern University Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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Update of my father's illness ...

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to let you know that my father has had a much better today than yesterday. As odd as this may sound to you, please keep praying for solid fecal matter in my father's intestines. I do apologize if that request offends you, but that is the truth of the matter. Frankly I believe it is in accord with the spirit of "asher yatzar". Let it be a lesson for all of us ... that when our bodies are behaving as they should, don't forget a few words of bracha and thanksgiving.

To read a revision of my first report about my father's hospital experience, go to www.authorsden.com, click on 'B' for "BUSCH"-go to my page and click on my "NEWS".

I ask of you one more thing. Please write either a message or a review as well-wishes for my father's spedy and full recoverey, and if you still can, find your dad and give him a really big hug!

Thank you,

Alan D. Busch

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Friends,

Please read this piece in conjunction with the poem "Tree of Life". Just scroll down a bit or check out http://www.authorsden.com/ where you'll find me alphabetically under 'B' for 'Busch'. When you find me click on 'My Poetry".

Watching My Father Fade Away ...

"I'll be down there tomorrow. It's too darn hot. The expressway is a parking lot."

On and on. Oh did I ever think of excuses yesterday! I spent the better part of the day fooling

myself in an attempt to assuage my feelings of guilt. I had found every excuse not to visit my

father in the hospital until after I called my brother Ron around 7:30 p.m..

"Hi Ron, so how was today?" My brother is in from St. Louis spending time with our father

whose prognosis is not especially bright.

"Not so good," he sounded worn out.

"Oh ...?" I wanted him to continue.

"It's just that I've not seen him cry before except when he thinks about Ben (my dad's

first grandson, my first-born son who died almost eight years ago)

It's so darn pitiful," my brother remarked.

Tears. My father was crying while sitting on the commode. Disappointment. Let down. Ten days

in the hospital and the diarrhea is unabated.

I kept silent. What response is there? Here is a man who does not care about his cancer. He can

deal with that. I heard him say it tonight over the phone while speaking with my cousin Robert

who is a medical doctor in Michigan.

"Robert, it's not the cancer. I accept that. It's the 'f .... in' diarrhea that is taking me downhill."

When will he be going home? Well, he won't be unless the docs can get a handle on this problem.

You see ... my Father isn't dying from the diarrhea but the cancer.

"Dying" such a harsh word, that I am going to substitute "fading away" in

its place. You know like what General MacArthur said about old soldiers not dying but

fading away ... remember that?

As a matter of fact, my father is an old soldier who retired United States Army with the rank of

brigadier general. And as with old soldiers, especially those who wear stars on their epilets, there
is no crying ... you know like what Tom Hanks said about baseball in A League of Their Own.

Think about what my father just said about the diarrhea taking him downhill, and answer this

question if you can: When we are just babies, what do our parents train us to do, that when we

achieve it, is regarded as our first really great accomplishment?

No, it's not "Da-da, ma-ma" or our first step without holding on. Sure they're important. Don't

get me wrong, but I've something else in mind. You got it, right?

It's "making" on the toilet, ‘toilet training”- the achievement of mastery over our bodies,

controlling one of its most basic functions. My father, may he forgive me, has lost that! And to

lose control over one's oldest personal mastery, that which defines you as a kid and no longer a

baby, is emotionally devastating.

So we struggle on. My father, may he live to be 120, is in need of much prayer and support. His

Hebrew name is Avrum ben Rose.

Thank you from his son,

Alan D. Busch

p.s. I will post more later.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

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Dear Readers,

Please copy and paste this link to your browser. You should see a newspaper review of a newly released book anthology by acclaimed novelist, writing coach and, as a matter of fact, my writing mentor, Ruchama King Feuerman. Entitled Everybody's Got A Story, A New Generation of Jewish Writers, Ruchama has anthologized an amazing collection of stories, including two of my own. It is not only a treasure trove of contemporary Jewish writing but a very handsome book as well. Topping it off are several instructional essays by Ruchama intended to get the neophyte writer going. Copies of Ruchama's book can be purchased at Judaicapress.com

www.myheraldnews.com/view.html?type=stories&action=detail&sub_id=35079 - 33k - Cached - Similar pages. When you get to this page, type Ruchama in the search window, click and it'll take you right to the story.

Thank you,

Alan D. Busch

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Where authors and readers come together!

My father is very ill in a hospital. His son reflects ...

Tree of Life, its trunk of broad girth,

Profusion of leaves anew from peaking buds bring ...

Resplendency burst forth come season’s spring ...

Turn back to reflections of innocent mirth.

I gaze
at his beacon once time ago brightly fierce.

Strength his tower o’er broad horizons seen.

Fade youthful verdancy from needst thou wean,

dusk dims its light where once the fog did pierce.

tosses this storm a gale,

Cleave tightly to thine anchor’s chain.

Lest the tumultuous sea in calmness feign,

steer ship’s rudder toward windward sail.

the firmament for His infinity unknown,

accept thy portion with gladness by night and by day.

May faith’s compass guide thee, reap that thou may,

content thyself with what thou hast already sewn.

Alan D. BuschJuly 2008