Sunday, December 20, 2009




Where authors and readers come together

Click here to read my newly published Chanukah story appearing in this week's edition of The Jewish Press. This link will take you to my Authorsden page, click on the link that says "download this article" and you'll view the article as it appears in The Jewish Press. It is a bit light but still readable. Thank you very much

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?id=53041

Tuesday, December 01, 2009




Where authors and readers come together!


http://www.authorsden.com/alandbusch1

if you would like to read more of my work, click on the link above.




Where authors and readers come together!

These Lights We Kindle, (revised for submission)

By Alan D. Busch

“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired.

“Please God. No!” I quietly pled, my body trembling.

“Not again,” I girded myself for I knew, with a parent’s intuition,

that something bad had befallen one of my children.

“Yes,” I acknowledged reluctantly. “This is Mr. Busch.”

“Mr. Busch, my name is Ann,” she began calmly. “I have

just left your daughter Kimberly.”

“Kimberly!” I panicked. “Is she alright? Is she hurt?

Tell me where she is!”

"Mr. Busch,” Ann continued as calmly as she had begun.

“We’re about an hour south of Chicago at mile marker 80.

Kimberly was involved in an accident, but she isn't hurt, not a scratch,” she assured me.

“I’ve already left the scene,” Ann further explained, “but when I saw it happen,

I pulled over to offer whatever assistance I could. That’s when I met Kimmy.

I promised her I’d call you as soon as the police and rescue arrived.”

“Listen Ann,” I interrupted her as politely as I could. “Thank you from

the bottom of my heart. You can’t imagine how much I appreciate what you did.”

I hung up but realized that, in my haste, I had neglected to ask Ann for her last name and

phone number.


“Jan,” I called Kimmy’s mother. “Sorry to call you at work but, but …”

“But what,” she asked haltingly. I swallowed hard.

“Kimmy was in an accident.”

“Kimmy, my baby!” she cried out.

“But she’s fine, not a scratch,” I hastened to add.

“What, what happened?”

“Listen ‘Hon’,” I interrupted her with an old term of endearment.

“I’m leaving to get Kimmy right now. She’ll tell you later.”

I gathered my things and ran out.


I had driven the route often on my way to visit family in St. Louis. This portion of the trip,

however, took only about ninety minutes, but it afforded me enough time to revisit the

memory of the day Kimmy was born. And, as I had done on the occasion of my first-born

son’s birth, I dressed in surgical garb and, with the assistance of the nurses, scrubbed

along side of the obstetrical team. My job, as proud dad, was to count fingers and toes. I

am thankful to The One Above for having given ten of each to all three of my children. For

Kimmy, however, there was an additional gift. “Ma,” I called my mother. “It’s a girl. Yes Ma,

ten of each, but with red hair and,” I continued excitedly, “the most magnificently shaped

and graceful fingers you could ever imagine.” I’ve marveled at them ever since that day.


I exited at mile marker 80 and turned into a gravel lot about a half mile off the interstate.

She stood in front of the service station that had towed her car. Appearing exhausted and

emotionally fragile, I couldn’t help but see the little girl whose red hair I used to put up in

a ponytail like that of Pebbles on The Flintstones.

“Daddy, I … I’m so sor …” Kimmy trembled as I held her, her head on my shoulder,

sobbing.

“Shh, shayneh madele.”

“Dad, can we go home?”

“Yes Sweety,” I assured her, “in a few minutes. I’ll meet you by your car. Don’t forget your

bags.”

I walked over to the garage’s office.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bill, the paunchy garage owner, admitted.

“And I’ve seen quite a few of these in my time,” he added, scratching his head.

We settled up.


Kimmy and I stared incredulously at what had been her candy apple red, white

convertible top Toyota Solara. The collision crumpled the front end within several inches

of the dashboard, as though it were the bellows of an accordion. The driver’s side door,

to my amazement, opened cleanly. I got in, took hold of the steering wheel and slumped

down in the seat. The deflated air bag lay crumpled up on the passenger side. “My baby

girl almost died here,” I muttered, straining to avoid an emotional breakdown in front of

my daughter. I opened the door.

“Kimmy,” I invited her. “Come sit by me.” I slid over. “I need a few minutes,” I softly pled.

She nodded understandingly.


Then they came back to me … the eight words I’d never forget:

“Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down immediately."

Dr. Ibrahim Yosef, on call that morning in the ER of Cook County Hospital, called me at

10 o’clock in the morning. My first-born son Ben had been transported in by Chicago Fire

paramedics only minutes before.

“Mr. Busch? Are you the father of Benjamin Busch?”

“Yes, Sir,” my voice quivered.

“I’m sorry but Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a traffic accident,” he

explained. It was then he “suggested” I come down immediately. I sped away to the

hospital in a state of focused desperation. I knew how this day would end.


Two hours later, my father and I witnessed our twenty-two year old son and grandson die

on the emergency room operating table.


“Dad, wake up,” Kimmy urged, shaking my shoulder. “It’s time to go home.”

The near loss of my second child led me to revisit the death of my first. It would not

surprise me if Kimmy, who had been a loving sister to Ben, had gone there too. We got

out of the car. I kissed her on the forehead. “Okay, Sweety. I’m ready to go home now.”


I thank The Almighty for “His miracles that are with us every day” and for ending this day

differently than He had the other when, several years before, I began the day with three

children but ended up with two.

We didn’t talk much. Kimmy was skittish, gasping every time I braked or switched

lanes.

“You okay?”

“Yes Dad. Just beat.” An hour and a half later, I dropped Kimmy off at her mom’s house.

My heart sank. I wanted to spend more time with her, but I had to keep the promise I had

made to her mother.

“We’ll get together later,” I reassured myself. As I pulled out of the driveway, I saw the

chanukiah Kimmy’s mom had placed in the front window. The shamash and the first

candle shone brightly. Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, is the season of miracles some

old, others new and for showering chocolate coins upon the heads of children.

“My God,” I chastised myself. “Tonight’s the first night of Chanukah.” I felt bad at first, but

quickly realized The One Above had enabled Kimmy and me to live the eternal message

of Chanukah: “nes gadol haya sham”-a great miracle happened there.


Later that week, Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger brother, for dinner Friday night.

As it happened, it was the one “Erev Shabbat” of the year when the candles of both

Chanukah and Shabbat are lit. We gathered around the table.

“Sweetheart,” my voice cracked as I began a short speech.

“Yes Dad,” she responded laughingly while drying a few tears.

“This Shabbat is extra special.” I lifted the Kiddush cup. "I am so thankful to have you by

my side.” My right hand trembled slightly. I let a moment pass. The candles shone more

brightly at that instant, illuminating the serpentine path of a single drop of wine running

down my hand. Reflecting on how that day might otherwise have ended, I chanted the

blessing over the wine and thanked The One Above for her life.


It was a wonderfully simple moment when I rejoiced in my Chanukah miracle who
se

fingers I held tightly in the palm of my hand, the best gift any dad could ever hope to

receive.

Alan D. Busch

11/29/09



Sunday, November 22, 2009



Where authors and readers come together!




These Lights We Kindle

By Alan D. Busch

“Mr. Busch?” a stranger’s voice inquired.
“Please God. No!” I silently pled, my body trembling. “Not again.”
I girded myself for I knew, with a parent’s intuition,
that something bad had befallen one of my children.
“Yes,” I acknowledged reluctantly. “This is Mr. Busch.”
“Mr. Busch, my name is Ann,” she began calmly. “I have
just left your daughter Kimberly.”
“Kimberly!” I panicked. “Is she alright? Is she hurt?
Tell me where she is!”
"Mr. Busch,” Ann continued as calmly as she had begun.
“Your daughter is fine. Really! We’re about an hour south
of Chicago at mile marker 80. Kimberly was involved in an accident,
but she isn't hurt, not a scratch,” she reassured me.
“I’ve already left the scene,” Ann further explained, “but when I saw it happen,
I pulled over to offer whatever assistance I could. That’s when I met Kimmy.
I promised her I’d call you as soon as the police and rescue arrived.”
“Listen Ann,” I interrupted her as politely as I could. “Thank you from
the bottom of my heart. You can’t imagine how much what you’ve done means to me.”

I realized later I had hung up the phone without getting Ann’s last name and phone number. “Jan,” I called Kimmy’s mother. “Sorry to call you at work but, but …”
“But what,” she asked haltingly. I swallowed hard.
“Kimmy was in an accident, but she’s fine,” I hastened to add. “Not a scratch.”
Kimmy, my baby!” she cried out. “What, what happened?”
“Listen ‘Hon’,” I interrupted, addressing her with an old term of endearment.
I’m leaving to get Kimmy right now. She’ll tell you later.”
I gathered my things and ran out.

When I turned into the gravel lot about a half mile off the interstate, I saw Kimmy standing in front
of the service station that had towed her car. She appeared impatient, exhausted and emotionally
on the edge, but the child before my eyes was the same little girl whose red hair I used to put
up in a ponytail like that of Pebbles on The Flintstones.
“Daddy, I … I’m so sor …” she trembled as I held her, her head on my shoulder, sobbing.
“Shhh … sha shayneh madele.”
“Dad, can we just go home?” she asked, looking battered and worn out.
“Yes Sweety, in a few minutes. Get your bags out of the trunk. I’ll meet you over there.”
I walked over to the garage’s office.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bill, the paunchy garage owner, admitted.
“And I’ve seen quite a few of these in my time,” he added, looking perplexed while scratching his
head. We settled up.

We stood there dumbfounded, staring at what had been Kimmy’s candy apple red,
white convertible top Toyota Solara. The collision crumpled the entire front end within several
inches of the dashboard, making it look like the bellows of an accordion, The driver’s side door, to
my amazement, opened cleanly. I got in, took hold of the steering wheel and slumped down in the
driver’s seat. “My baby girl almost died here today,” I muttered to myself, desperately straining to
avoid breaking down in front of my daughter.
“Kimmy,” I opened the door. “Sit here by me,” I invited her, patting the edge of the seat. I moved
over. “I need a few minutes,” I softly pled. She nodded understandingly.

Then they came back to me … the eight words I’d never forget:

“Mr. Busch, I suggest you come down immediately."
Dr. Ibrahim Yosef, chief resident trauma surgeon, was on call that morning in the ER
of Cook County Hospital when he called me around 10 o’clock in the morning. My first-born son Ben
had been transported in by Chicago Fire paramedics only minutes before.
“Mr. Busch? Are you the father of Benjamin Busch?”
“Yes, Sir,” my voice quivered.
“Ben has suffered massive internal injuries from a traffic accident,” he explained. It was then he said
them. I sped away from my office in compliance with Dr. Yosef’s “suggestion” in a state of focused
desperation, I knew, I just knew how this day would end.
Two hours later, my father and I witnessed our twenty-two year old son and grandson die on the
emergency room operating table. I knew in my mind’s eye I would stare forever at Ben’s
unresponsive body.
“Dad, wake up,” Kimmy urged, shaking my shoulder. “It’s time to go home.” For my daughter, it was
a moment she wanted to leave behind and move on.

After all, who among us wants to replay the footage of his near violent death? And there I was,
trying my best to comprehend the enormity of nearly having lost a second child by using the only
meaningful point of reference I had, the death of Kimmy’s brother. But this was not about Ben
though I suppose my drifting away for a moment to make the connection is understandable if not
entirely justifiable. It was all about my daughter, that once enchanting little ballerina with the
amazingly long and slender fingers. She now sat next to me on the edge of the driver’s seat, a
grown up soon to be law school graduate whose fingers were still as lovely as they had been when
she danced upon toe shoe. I like to believe Kimmy knew where I had gone for several moments.
Knowing the kind of loving sister she had been to Ben, it would not surprise me at all if she had
gone there too. But today ended, and I thank The Almighty for this, differently than had the other
when I had begun the day with three children but came home with only two. We got up out of the
car. I planted a big “Daddy” kiss on her forehead. “Okay, Sweety. Now I’m ready to go home.”We didn’t talk much. Kimmy, understandably skittish, gasped every time I braked or switched
lanes. “You okay?”
“Yes Dad. Just beat.” An hour and a half later, I dropped Kimmy off at her mom’s house. My heart
sank. I wanted to spend more time with her, but I had to remain true to the promise I had made her
mother. “We’ll get together later,” I reassured myself. As I pulled out of the driveway, I saw the
chanukiah Kimmy’s mom had placed in the front window. The shamash and the first candle shone
happily. “My God,” I chastised myself. “Tonight’s the first night of Chanukah. At first I felt bad, but I
realized that even though the tumult of the day had made me unmindful, it hadn’t severed me from
its eternal message, encoded on the dreidel: “nes gadol haya sham”-a great miracle happened there.

Later that week, Kimmy joined me and Zac, her younger brother, for Shabbat Chanukah dinner. The
table was set, its candles aglow. It was the season of miracles old and new, a time for spinning
dreidels, eating potato latkes and showering chocolate coins upon the heads of children.
Chanukah, The Festival of Lights, was on display in the front window of every Jewish home.
We gathered around. “Sweetheart,” my voice cracked as I began a short speech. “Yes Dad,” she
responded laughingly while drying a few tears.
“This Shabbat is extra special.” I lifted the Kiddush cup. "I am so thankful to have you by my side.”
My right hand trembled slightly. I let a moment pass. The flickering candles shone more brightly at
that instant, illuminating the serpentine path of a single drop of wine running down my hand. I
chanted the blessing over the wine and thanked The One Above for her life. It was a wonderfully,
simple moment.

Reflecting on how that day might otherwise have ended, I rejoiced in my Chanukah
miracle whose fingers I held tightly in the palm of my hand, the best gift any dad could ever
hope to receive.

Monday, November 16, 2009




Where authors and readers come together!




http://www.juf.org/news/local.aspx?id=50878

Dear Readers and Friends

Clicking on the above link will take you to my latest published piece in the online edition of the Chicago Jewish United Federation News Magazine. As always read the comments from other readers and please leave one of your own.

I appreciate readership and support,

Alan Busch
alandbusch@aol.com
www.authorsden.com/alandbusch1
www.writersstockintrade.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 08, 2009




Where authors and readers come together!


I Grieve For Ben at My Side

I devotedly await the impossible.

If only Ben could come crashing through my kitchen door on

his skateboard again, I’d be able to return to my life the

way it once was. Mind you, it was not always pleasant.

I’ve known the agonizing experience of wrestling my 220 lb.

adult son in the throes of diabetic hypoglycemia and the

torment of bear-hugging him while a grand mal epileptic

seizure ran its course. And I can assure you that combating

the devastating impact of not one but two chronic diseases

in my child’s life is, like his death, an event for which

no parent can adequately prepare himself. My family

experienced both.


The days and years of Ben’s life were few and troubled.

When ten and a half years old, he begrudgingly surrendered

his childhood to the pernicious demands of juvenile diabetes.

Gone were the yesterdays and tomorrows of his childhood.

His hopefulness for a normal future, his expectations of

success and for long life became bleak. Ben acceded to the

basic requirements of diabetic care but insisted he live his

life on his own terms, free to experience each day as if it

were his last. I’ve never known anyone more able to live in

the urgency of the present tense than Ben.

I‘ve never loved anyone more, but Ben and I clashed often. I

feared his diabetes. He largely ignored it. Believe me when I

tell you we did not welcome the additional burden of epilepsy

with which Ben was diagnosed just after his eighteenth

birthday.

Parental bereavement takes no days off. This year I will

commemorate the three thousand, two hundred and eighty-

fifth day I have been grieving for Ben. The 24th of Cheshvan,

5761, corresponding to November 22, 2000, the day before

Thanksgiving, was the last day I spoke to him, touched him

and marveled at his gift for living life.


On the eve of Ben’s yahrzeit, I will light a ner neshuma, a

memorial candle, this year for the ninth time, a practice

I’ve done since Ben’s life ended after twenty-two and a

half years. But as important as I recognize this “light of the

soul” to be for Ben’s aliyah, it does nothing to soothe the pain

of my loss. Maybe it’s unreasonable of me to expect that it

should. There is, after all, no balm for parental grief.

Its pain worsens as the gulf that separates us widens. I

return older each time. Ben remains twenty-two years old as

he was then and will always be. Instead of recalling his

young manhood, I tend now to think of him more and more

as the little boy he once was. He has missed so much of life.

I don’t think any number of yahrzeit candles can illumine the

darkness that shrouds the life of a bereaved parent.

Though of my past, I grieve for Ben at my side one day at a

time, every day of the week, month and year. He must

remain an eternal zikaron, an everlasting remembrance.

That is, I suspect, the way of most, perhaps of all bereaved

parents. Ask any one of us how it works.

“I know what you mean," noted a friend of mine, a fellow

bereaved parent. "It's been 28 years for me. I can't imagine

the days!! Yet I still grieve and always will. I don't want a day

to come when I can't remember her face or things she said

and did.”


Contrary to the well-intentioned but wayward counsel of

some consolers, I don't wish to put Ben’s death behind me. I

hold it in front of my eyes. It neither blinds nor causes me to

stumble. Even though I’ve never put much stock in the old

platitude that “time heals all wounds”, I do worry, however,

that someday Ben’s death will feel more like history than

yesterday’s tragedy. So, I refuse to surrender his memory to

the amnesia of time. Though I believe I did the best I could

for him, I’ve considered the possibility that guilt might be

hiding behind my grief, that somehow I may have failed Ben

in his life.


I think a lot about that. I am, however,
certain of one thing.

My grief, like that of others who have loved and lost their own

Bens, remains my steadfast companion.


So, as I approach the three thousand, two hundred and

eighty-fifth day, I pray Ben that you dwell in the heavens high

enough to see me searching the starry skies for your

passing shadow.

Alan D. Busch

11/7/09

Wednesday, November 04, 2009





Where authors and readers come together!



I Grieve For Ben at My Side


I devotedly await the impossible. If Ben could only come crashing through the kitchen door on
his skateboard again, we’d be able to return our lives to the way they once were.

Mind you, it was not always pleasant.

I’ve known the experience of wrestling a 220 lb. man in the throes of diabetic hypoglycemia and bear-hugging him while a grand mal epileptic seizure ran its course. And I can assure you that combating the devastating impact of chronic disease on your child’s life is, like a child’s death, an event for which no parent can adequately prepare himself. Our family experienced both.

The days and years of Ben’s life were few and troubled. I think we did the best we could for Ben although there have been times when I’ve had serious doubts. Ben begrudgingly surrendered his childhood to the pernicious demands of juvenile diabetes when ten and a half years old. Gone were the yesterdays and tomorrows of his childhood. His hopefulness for a normal future, his expectations of success and for long life became bleak. He acceded to the basic requirements of
diabetic care but refused to live his life unless it were on his own terms.

Ben lived in the present tense better than anyone I’ve ever known, experiencing each day as if it were his last. I loved no one more than Ben, but we clashed often. I feared diabetes.
Ben largely ignored it. Believe me when I tell you we did not welcome the additional burden of epilepsy with which he was diagnosed just after his eighteenth birthday.

Parental bereavement takes no days off. This year I will commemorate the three thousand, two hundred and eighty-fifth day I have been grieving for Ben. The 24th of Cheshvan, 5761, corresponding to November 22, 2000, the day before Thanksgiving, was the last day I spoke to him, touched him and marveled at his gift for living life.

On the eve of Ben’s yahrzeit, I will light a ner neshuma, a memorial candle, this year for the ninth time, a practice I’ve done since Ben’s life ended after twenty-two and a half years. But as important as it is, the light of the ner neshuma does not soothe the pain of my loss. There is no
balm for parental grief.

Its pain worsens as the gulf that separates us widens. I return older each time. Ben remains twenty-two years old as he was then and will always be. Instead of recalling his young
manhood, I tend to think of him more and more as the little boy he once was. He has missed so much of life. I don’t think any number of yahrzeit candles can illumine the darkness that shrouds the life of a bereaved parent.

Though of my past, I grieve for Ben at my side one day at a time, every day of the week, month and year. Ben must remain an eternal zikaron, an everlasting remembrance.
That is, I suspect, the way of most, perhaps of all bereaved parents. Ask any one of them how it works.

A friend and fellow bereaved parent notes: “I know what you mean and it's been 28 years for me. I can't imagine the days!! Yet I still grieve and always will. I don't want a day to come
when I can't remember her face or things she said and did.”

Contrary to the well-intentioned but wayward counsel of some consolers, I don't wish to put Ben’s death behind me. I hold it in front of my eyes. It neither blinds nor causes me to
stumble. Even though I’ve never put much stock in the old platitude that “time heals all wounds”, I do worry that someday Ben’s death will feel more like history than yesterday’s tragedy. I refuse to surrender his memory to the amnesia of time.

While still struggling to clarify the impact such profound grief has had on my life. I’ve considered the possibility that guilt hides behind my grief; the guilt I have felt at times for somehow having failed Ben in his life. I think about it a lot. I just don’t know, but of one thing I am certain. My grief, like that of others who have loved and lost their own Bens, remains my steadfast companion.

Alan D. Busch
11/04/09

Monday, October 26, 2009





Where authors and readers come together!





Cruising Route 66 With Dad, Revision 2

“Albert, you’ll have the boys back next Sunday around noon,
right?” our mom anxiously reminded Dad of the promise
he had made. “Come on, Dad, let’s get going,” we hurried
him along, shouting in unison from the leather–upholstered
back seat where any mischief might remain undetected for
a while or so we thought.

Fashionably dubbed the “T-Bird” by aficionados, Dad’s flashy Ford
Thunderbird was a fabulous set of wheels with which to cruise
Route 66. And that was precisely what we were about to do,
getting our kicks on Route 66, as it were, in the spirit of
Nat King Cole's famous song from that era.

"Sure will, Gerry. I’ll have them back on time,” Dad shouted
back smilingly and waving while he excitedly strode to the car.
My father looked nattily but not fancily attired as he left Mom’s house.
Sporting a pair of white summer weight slacks cuffed just perfectly atop a pair of
O’Conner and Goldberg wingtips, a navy blue Banlon knit shirt
and topped off by a brand-new cap rakishly worn a bit off center,
my father was quite the handsome fellow, truth be told.

Firing up the ignition while gleefully lowering the convertible top,
my dad, a genuine sun-worshipper, older brother Ron and I began
a memorable road trip from St. Louis to Chicago. It happened a lifetime ago on one of
several summer Sundays in 1960 so hot that the black pitch used
to patch the roads reached its boiling point by mid-morning, a
matter of some concern to local highway and volunteer fire
department. Life was … good.

My folks had recently divorced and, as the courts typically decided in those days, the mother
received custody of the children. Don’t get me wrong. We loved
Mom then as we do now forty-five years later. Simple as that.

In the absence of their marriage, my parents went about their business of responsible
parenting as if nothing had happened. Dad was, to his credit as the
non-custodial parent, always a conscientious father. That’s never
been an easy thing to do. While we saw him only four times a
year, he more than made up for the infrequency of his visits by
the quality of the time he spent with us.Apparently, he and Mom had cooperated in the planning of our week-long vacation in Chicago where we had all lived until just
recently. Following their breakup, my brother Ron, my mom and
I moved down to St. Louis where we lived with my maternal
grandmother or was it she moved in with us? Really I was
never quite sure about the arrangements. I do recall, however,
that Grandma Jean moved out after a year or so , I think, due to a
dissolution of the mother-daughter relationship, traceable to her
giving my mom too much grief about coming home late from a
date. Yes, it is weird when your mom is dating, but not too
surprising in my case because Mom was about thirty-one years
old and extraordinarily pretty. I recall a good many gentlemen-
callers knocking on our front door.

One of my favorites was Dr. Leslie Rich. A dentist like my
dad, he had a boat and a Porsche, a big tough guy. I sure liked
him. Don’t know what happened between them. Wasn’t meant to
be, I guess.You know it’s kind of funny, but the kind of “funny” you don’t
really ever understand-never mind that you think about it quite
often. “What did happen back then, I mean, between my parents?
But as a kid, I clearly remember them talking together in my
mom’s kitchen over a cup of coffee on those Sunday mornings
just before Dad would head back to Chicago.

“Do you think they’re talking about getting married again?” I
asked Ron. He looked at me as if to say “That’s ‘gotta’ be the
dumbest question in the world.” God, I hated those meetings
but this one was going to end differently because we were headed
back to Chicago to spend a week with Dad. I’ll say this much for
my parents. I never saw or heard either of them argue or say one
unkind word about the other in our presence and, for
that matter, to anyone else. My folks were decent, civil people.
Whatever happened … happened. It destroyed their marriage.
That being said, I am grateful my parents never let their marital
difficulties and hurt feelings each one may have had for the other
infect their parenting.

My brother Ron and I couldn’t have been more excited in
anticipation of a grand week. It was to be our first extended time
with Dad since the divorce.

“Seeya Ma!” She looks kind of sad,” I remarked to Ron.
“Don’t worry,” we reassuringly yelled out the window. We’ll
be back.”
“Hey guys, here you go,” he said, flipping his cap into the back
seat. “Too hot for this. Hold on to it for me okay?”
“Sure dad,” we agreeably responded, each of us lunging for the cap.

And so it began. Could it have gotten any better? To our way of
thinking, no. We were with Dad, it was a beautiful though
intensely hot day and we had a cap, one cap between the two of
us. And so we tussled about who would wear it first and then for
how long.“Boys will be boys,” I saw my Dad mouth, smiling contentedly,
when both he and I looked into the rear-view mirror at the same
time. Should we have shared the cap between us? Well sure, but
that would have been way too grown up for an eight-year old
boy and his ten-year old big brother.

“Hey boys, take a look. We’re crossing over the Mississippi
River into Illinois. That might have been of interest on another
day.

“Give it here, “I righteously demanded. “It’s my turn.”
“Why dontcha try to take it?” Ron taunted me in act of
sibling cruelty. And I did, jolting Ron somewhat in the
process. Well, the combination of my self-assertion and the gale-
like winds sweeping across the historic Eads bridge was more than
enough to snatch the cap from Ron’s hand and drop it into the barge-
congested, muddied waters of the Mississippi River. It probably
never even came close to reaching New Orleans.

“Oh my God! The cap! Dad’s cap!” Ron muffled his gasp of
incredulity.
“Everything okay back there?” Dad inquired, looking at us from
his rear view mirror.
“Yes. Dad, just checking out the river,” Ron blurted out, a bit too
eagerly perhaps or had it been the guilt-infused tone of his voice?
What it may have been, Dad looked somewhat nonplussed.
“What are we gonna tell Dad?” I whispered to Ron worried about
how Dad would react to the awful news.
“What are you asking me for? I’m not the one who lost his
cap,” Ron shot back.
“Me?”
“Yea, you.”
“Why did you dangle it in front of my face?”
“Why did you reach for it?”
“You think we can go back and find it?” I asked pleadingly.
“Are you whacky? That hat is a goner. Probably end up
hanging off the hook of some fisherman’s pole.”
“You really think so?”
“Yup.”

My father loves the sunshine, the brighter, the hotter, the
better. But, as with everything, there is a limit, and my father
reached his that day. He had driven bare-headed from St.
Louis and, by the time we reached Litchfield, given the
baldness of his pate, it had become too hot even for him.
Litchfield, Illinois, one of those “slice of Americana” towns you’d
miss had you so much as blinked or nodded off for a second. In
the old days before the interstate was rerouted outside the town,
“motorists’, as they used to be called, drove through the town
itself, stopping at every red light, “stop” sign, Esso “filling” station
(remember their slogan that advised us to ‘put a tiger in your
tank?’) and “Dog ‘n Suds”.

Now there was no finer lunch to be had on a sultry summer
day than a Dog N’ Suds all-American beef hotdog on a
steamed poppy seed bun with everything on it (naturally!), the
greasiest fries you could ever imagine and an ice cold root beer.
“Hey, you guys hungry?”
“Hey yea, Dad! How ‘bout Dog and Suds?”
“I was thinking the very same thing. I see their sign up ahead.”
“Wow, the top of my head is burning up,” Dad remarked as he
pulled up to the Dog ‘n Suds Drive-In. Edging up to the two-way
speaker as closely as he could to avoid having to hang out the
window to place our order, he depressed his automatic window
switch.
“Boys, will you hand me up my cap, pl … ?”
“Welcome to Dog N’ Suds. May I take your order?” a
lady’s pleasant voice asked
“Oh, okay, sure,’ Dad responded, turning back to the speaker.
“Hi, okay, thank you. Uh, one moment, Miss.” Dad seemed
slightly rattled, caught-as it were-between a talking box and the
chicanery of two boys.
“Fellas” hot dogs and fries, right? Shakes too?” We nodded
eagerly. ‘Yea sure, Dad, two chocolates, right?” Ron turned to me,
beseeching my quick agreement.
“Hello sir, may I have your order please?” she requested again with
the slightest trace of irritation in her voice.
Dad turned back quickly to place our order.
“Yes, sorry about that” he began, “We’ll have three dogs with
the works, three fries, two chocolate shakes and one extra large
root beer.” Whew! Saved by the lady’s voice in the Dog N” Suds
speaker box.

Within five minutes, our roller skating teenage waitress hooked
our tray onto Dad’s half open window. What a treat! And you know the best part of it all? Dad’s extra large root beer struck out the flame scorching the top of his head.
Maybe, just maybe he’d forget about the cap. Ron and I wolfed
down our dogs, fries and shakes.
“You guys ready?”
“Yes Dad, thank youuuuu …” Ron and I lazily responded,
feigning irrepressible sleepiness while harmonizing our yawns
and stretching our arms overhead. Good thing the top was
already down. We would have gone straight through it
otherwise. We handed up our trash to Dad.
“Hey, you know,” Dad cheerfully said, “By the time you guys
are done napping, we’ll probably be in Chicago.”
Thinking we had pulled the proverbial wool over Dad’s eyes,
Ron and I “dozed off.”

Have you ever noticed how summer weather can dramatically
change within several minutes? As we approached Lincoln,
Illinois, about forty miles beyond Litchfield, those big, fluffy,
puffy gray rainclouds- which had been looming overhead ever
since we left Litchfield-became ominously dark, blotting out
the rays of sunshine, a welcome respite from the intense heat.
Dad put up the convertible top.
“Hey boys, everything all right back there? You sleep okay?”
Ron looked at me. I looked at him. The jig was up! “Oh just
great Dad. Are we almost there?”
“No. we’ve got a ways yet.”
“Dad, is there another Dog N’ Suds coming up?” Ron inquired,
barely concealing his beginner’s attempt at disingenuity.
“Hey, yea Dad, how ‘bout those shakes?” I chimed in.
“Don’t know Son. I had a root beer. Remember? Oh, by the
way, my cap … do you guys got it back there?”
Now, you may not believe this, but at that precise moment,
when it appeared no further subterfuge could prevent the
revelation of the awful truth, Dad’s cap probe was interrupted
yet again, but this time by a thunderclap so startlingly loud that I
spilled the rest of Dad’s root beer on Ron’s shirt. What fell from
the sky were not raindrops but rain buckets. Dad switched his
wipers on high, but they could not keep up with the deluge. Dad pulled over.
We’d wait this one out. After five minutes,
the rain stopped, having moved out as quickly as it had
moved in. The temperature must have dropped fifteen
degrees. Dad put the top down again and seemed happy, you
know carefree. Pulling off his shirt at a rest area, he drove the
rest of the way into Chicago smiling broadly, bare-chested and
still bare-headed. He certainly appeared to be enjoying life-kind
of like the idealized “glamorous people” you’d see depicted on
the ubiquitous marketing billboards placed along the interstate
every quarter mile or so. I remember their smiling faces
fashionably accentuated by Marlboros or Benson and Hedges and
whose hair was as wind-blown as Dad’s would have been had he
still the red wavy locks of his youth?

My father never mentioned the cap again. Did he realize what
had happened? Probably did, but this week in Chicago would be
his time with us and ours with him. Jeopardize that over a
cap? My dad wouldn’t have done that. Besides, it wasn’t
exactly a Biltmore black Canadian suede fedora, just a cloth
cap, no big deal, right? And you know what? Even had it been
a Borsalino, my father was wise enough to teach us by his example
that it’s not the hat but the head on which it sits that makes the
difference.

Thursday, October 22, 2009





Where authors and readers come together!




Cruising Route 66 With Dad-Revision 1

It was such a hot summer Sunday that the black pitch used topatch the roads reached its boiling point by mid-morning, amatter of some concern to local highway and volunteer firedepartments.

As we crossed over the mighty Mississippi from Missouri toIllinois, my father, a genuine sun worshipper, gleefullylowered the convertible top of his flashy Ford Thunderbird. Fashionably dubbed the “T-Bird” by afficionados, my dad, older brother Ron and I cruised along U.S. Rte. 66 from St.Louis to Chicago. It happened one summer Sunday, a lifetime ago. Life was … good.

My brother Ron and I couldn’t have been more excited.Anticipating a grand week in Chicago with Dad, we rode very comfortably in the leather–upholstered back seat where any mischief might at least remain undetected for a while which, as matter of fact, it did or so we thought.

My folks had recently divorced and, as the courts typically decided in those days, the mother received custody of the children. Don’t get me wrong. We loved Mom then as we do now forty-five years later. Simple as that. My dad has always been a conscientious father. To his credit, as the non-custodial parent, that’s never been an easy thing todo. While we saw him only four times a year, he more than made up for the infrequency of his visits by the quality of the time
he spent with us.

We had just passed through Litchfield, Illinois, one of those“slice of Americana” towns you’d miss had you so much as blinked or nodded off for a second. In the old days before the interstate was rerouted outside the town, “motorists’, as theyused to be called, drove through the town itself, stopping ate very red light, “stop” sign, Esso “filling” station (remember their slogan that advised us to ‘put a tiger in your tank?’) and“Dog ‘n Suds”. Now there was no finer lunch to be had on a sultry summer day than a Dog N’ Suds all-American beef hotdog on a steamed poppy seed bun with everything on it (naturally!), the greasiest fries you could ever imagine and an ice cold root beer.

“Hey, you guys hungry?”
“Hey yea, Dad! How ‘bout Dog and Suds?”
“I was thinking the very same thing. I see their sign up ahead.”

“What are we gonna tell Dad?” I whispered to Ron, nearing astate of panic.

“What are you asking me for? I’m not the one who lost hisc ap,” Ron shot back.

“Me?”

“Yea, you.”

“Why did you dangle it in front of my face?”
“Why did you reach for it?”
“You think we can go back and find it?” I asked pleadingly.
“Are you whacky? That was probably thirty miles back. Besides,it’s long gone by now. Probably hanging off the hook of some fisherman’s pole.”
“You really think so?”

“Yup.”


As for the cap, a powerful wind swept across the historic Eads Bridge just as we crossed the state line into Illinois and snatched it from Ron’s hand. We gasped as we watched it fall into the barge-congested, muddied waters of the Mississippi River. It probably never even came close to reaching New Orleans. Should we have shared the cap between us? Well sure, but that would have been way too grown-up for an eight-year oldboy and his ten-year old big brother And so we tussled about who would wear it first and for how long. “Boys will be boys,” I saw my Dad mouth, smiling contentedly, when both he and I looked into the rear-view mirror at the same time.

My father loves the sunshine, the brighter, the hotter, the better. But, as with everything, there is a limit, and my father reached his that day. He had driven bare-headed from St.Louis and, by the time we reached Litchfield, given the baldness of his pate, it had become too hot even for him.

“Wow, the top of my head is burning up,” Dad remarked as he pulled up to the Dog ‘n Suds Drive-In. Edging up to the two-way speaker as closely as he could to avoid having to hang out the window to place our order, he depressed his automatic window switch.

“Boys, will you hand me up my cap, pl … ?”
“Welcome to Dog N’ Suds. May I take your order?” a pleasant lady’s voice asked.
“Oh, okay, sure,’ Dad responded, turning back to the speaker.“Hi, okay, thank you. Uh, one moment, Miss.” Dad seemed slightly rattled, caught-as it were-between a talking box and the chicanery of two boys.“Fellas” hot dogs and fries, right? Shakes too?”

We nodded eagerly.

‘Yea sure, Dad, two chocolates, right?” Ron turned to me, beseeching my quick agreement.
“Hello sir, may I have your order please?” she requested again with the slightest trace of irritation in her voice. Dad turned back quickly to place our order.“Yes, sorry about that” he began, “We’ll have three dogs with the works, three fries, two chocolate shakes and one extra largeroot beer.” Whew! Saved by the lady’s voice in the Dog N” Suds speaker. Within five minutes, our roller skating teenage waitress hooked our tray onto Dad’s half open window.

What a treat! And you know the best part of it all? Dad’s extra large root beer struck out the flame scorching the top of his head. Maybe, just maybe he’d forget about the cap. Ron and I wolfed down our dogs, fries and shakes.

“You guys ready?”
“Yes Dad, thank youuuuu …” Ron and I lazily responded,feigning irrepressible sleepiness while harmonizing our yawns and stretching our arms overhead. Good thing the top wasa lready down. We would have gone straight through it otherwise. We handed up our trash to Dad.

“Hey, you know,” Dad cheerfully said, “By the time you guys wake up from your naps, we’ll probably be in Chicago.” Thinking we had pulled the proverbial wool over Dad’s eyes, Ron and I “dozed off".

”Have you ever noticed how summer weather can dramaticallychange within several minutes? As we approached Lincoln, Illinois, about forty miles beyond Litchfield, those big, fluffy, puffy gray rainclouds- which had been looming overhead eversince we left Litchfield-became ominously dark, blotting out the rays of sunshine, a welcome respite from the intense heat.
Dad put up the convertible top.

“Hey boys, everything all right back there? You sleep okay? Ron looked at me. I looked at him. The jig was up! “Oh just great Dad. Are we almost there?”“
No. we’ve got a ways yet.”
“Dad, is there another Dog N’ Suds coming up?” Ron inquired, barely concealing his beginner’s attempt at disingenuity.
“Hey, yea Dad, how ‘bout those shakes?” I chimed in.
“Don’t know Son. I had a root beer. Remember? Oh, by theway, my cap … do you guys got it back there?”Now, you may not believe this, but at that precise moment,when it appeared no further subterfuge could prevent the revelation of the awful truth, Dad’s cap probe was interrupted yet again, but this time by a thunderclap so startlingly loud that I spilled the rest of Dad’s root beer on Ron’s shirt. What fell from the sky were not raindrops but rain buckets. Dad switched his wipers on high, but they could not keep up with the deluge. Dad pulled over. We’d wait this one out. After five minutes, the rain stopped, having moved out as quickly as it had moved in. The temperature must have dropped fifteen degrees. Dad put the top down again and seemed happy, you know carefree. Pulling off his shirt at a rest area, he drove therest of the way into Chicago smiling broadly, bare-chested and still bare-headed. He certainly appeared to be enjoying life-kind of like the idealized “glamorous people” you’d see depicted onthe ubiquitous marketing billboards placed along the interstate every quarter mile or so. I remember their smiling facesfashionably accentuated by Marlboros or Benson and Hedges andwhose hair was as wind-blown as Dad’s would have been had he still the red wavy locks of his youth.

My father never mentioned the cap again. Did he realize what had happened? Probably did, but this week in Chicago would be his time with us and ours with him. Jeopardize that over a cap? My dad wouldn’t have done that. Besides, the cap wasn’t exactly a Biltmore black Canadian suede fedora, just a cloth cap, no big deal, right? And you know what? Even had it been a Borsalino, my father was wise enough to know it’s not the hatwhich makes the difference but the head wearing it.


Alan D. Busch

Friday, October 02, 2009



Where authors and readers come together!

Martin

I stretch out my arms for Martin …
If I could I’d have dug his well deeper,
If for me he was never meant to be,
I remain alas my brother’s keeper.

Why didst Thou irreparably my mother’s heart break?
For Martin, until her last day, she grieved
Burdened by guilt she should not have borne
Unto Thee alone did she steadfastly cleave.

Until this everyday these years later,
In prayer do I call Thee in dread.
I can’t help but ask you why Martin …
Wouldst Thou hadst taken me instead.

I writhe in my anguish to fathom,
Your ways in the wee hours I’ve sought
Why didst Thou decree so severely?
The pain his young death hath wrought.

Alan D. Busch

10/2/09

Tuesday, September 01, 2009





Where authors and readers come together!





Is it Still Okay If Your Father Cries?


The phone rang. I had long dreaded this call. It’s Bobbie, my
dad’s wife. My father is in crisis. I know this because Bobbie is
calling me. We had agreed she would in the event of a life.-
threatening emergency. “Well? Pick it up already,” my wife
exhorted.

“Alan, I’m taking your father to the emergency room at
Prentice. Hold on. The paramedics have arrived. Oh my God.
Bye!” I left immediately for the hospital.

“Dr. Busch. Hmm, Dr. Busch?” the receptionist repeats while
searching her daily admittance list. “Patient’s first
name is?”

“Albert,” my father’s name shoots out of my mouth. The
receptionist, a young woman, in her mid-late 20s, with
painted nails, gingerly keys in our last name. “B-u-s-h, Bush”.

“No, Miss, it’s B-u-s-c-h, Busch.”

“Oh, okay, got it. There he is. Dr. Albert I. Busch. Treatment
Room number one. Oh my! Right over there,” she swivels in
her chair and points, “Turn right at the hallway.” I dash off
forgetting to thank her.

“Dad’s inside,” Bobbie gestures, nodding her head toward the
door. “My God, what am I walking into here?” I wonder,
drawing a deep breath and swallowing. Bobbie follows me in.
The windowless room is cramped, clutter all over the place.
An extra gurney with a broken wheel, several wheelchairs
and a portable weight scale make it seem more like a storage
closet than a treatment room. The air is hot, fetid. I see Dad
lying atop a gurney several feet away wearing
nothing but a loosely-tied hospital gown, his clothes
unceremoniously stuffed into a clear plastic garbage bag.

My father is fading away. He has lost so much weight his skin
hangs off him like an over-sized suit. The skin of his neck sags.
His legs have become spindly, their skin tightly stretched and
transparently thin. Two nurses are just finishing their second
clean up when I walk in. Soiled linens, towels and wipes are
everywhere strewn about. A momentary calm passes, just a
matter of seconds before ‘whoosh!’ A third torrent of “profound
diarrhea” has attacked my father only ten minutes after his arrival.
The nurses respond swiftly and unaffectedly. I watch them
with awe and thanks. Their tireless professionalism comforts
me. Dad’s in good hands. Sarah, the head nurse, busy rifling through
the cabinets for more adult diapers, fresh gowns and bed sheets, asks us to
leave, but nods approvingly when I remain at my father’s side.
Bobbie steps out.

“Alan?” Dad whispers, grasping my hand with his powerful
clench, a good sign. “Yes, Dad, I’m right here.” We both
manage a little smile. The door opens.“Dr. Busch?” inquires
a young resident, sporting a three-day growth of beard and a
black suede kippah.“Shalom Aleichem. I’m Alan Busch, Dr. Busch’s
son,” I quickly respond.

“Benjamin Finerman. Aleichem shalom,” he returns the
greeting, extending his hand in Shabbos courtesy. ”Dr. Busch,”
he addresses my father, “your chart indicates a few problems
with chronic diarrhea, high fever, dehydration and urinary
tract infection.”

“’A few problems’ indeed, doctor!” my father chuckles in
appreciation of Dr. Finerman’s understatement.

“Dr. Busch, we’ll be admitting you as soon as the paperwork is
processed.” He turns to me and whispers: “May your father
have a refuah shleyma.” Within half an hour, just as he had
indicated, patient transport moved us to room 1676 where we
spent the next thirteen days.

His last battle against profound diarrhea lies ahead. My dad
and I have no plan but to react. There are no offensive
measures we can take. It ambushes us whenever it pleases. His
body no longer signals any advance warning. We are stuck on
the defensive. Although not itself lethal, it is turning my
father’s remaining time into a living hell.

"Call the nurses, Alan.

"Dad, let me. I can take care of this by myself.”

Please, please don’t do any more,” my father pleads.

My protestation weakens.

“I understand your feelings Son but the nurses are better at
this than you. Let them do their jobs. Besides, it’s not right for
a son to help his father in this way.”

Though I have no doubts the oncology nurses are doing the
best they can, they cannot always respond to our calls in time,
especially in the early morning hours when staffing is cut
back. And I understand that. And so it comes back to me.
I can’t begin to recount the number of times Dad and I have
shuffled from his bed to the bathroom. Dragging that
awkward “post and poll”(as one nurse called it) to which Dad
is attached by his saline drip and heart monitor makes the
eight feet from dad’s bed to the bathroom seem like … well,
sometimes we make it. Sometimes we don’t. Each clean up is a
tiresome repetition of the previous one: helping Dad wash
himself, changing his gown and bed clothes, cleaning the
floor if necessary, bagging it all and calling housekeeping to
pick up the soiled linen and freshen up the room. Despite the
embarrassment of it all, Dad remains determined to reach the
bathroom in time and thereby regain, at least, partial mastery
over his body.The doctors have no answers, their treatments remain
ineffective. “There is nothing more we can do for him,”
according to my father’s oncologist. My father is not ready to
go home, but the hospital is ready to release him tomorrow.
Time is running out.In an act of desperation, I called my dad’s
gastroenterologist at 5:00 a.m. and left an urgent message with his answering
service. He called me back within minutes.

“Doctor, the “tincture of opium” you prescribed to treat my
dad’s diarrhea hasn’t worked. There is still no change,” I
explained as calmly as I could. It wasn’t easy. I was at wit’s end,
ready “to strangle” anyone who crossed my path.
“I’ve tried everything I know to do, but if the tincture is not
working, I do not know how to stop it,” he admitted. My
heart sank.

“The prognosis varies with each person,” my dad’s oncologist
explained later that morning. “This could go on for three to
six months or even a year,” he added, shrugging his shoulders
and turning up the palms of his hands.Dad was getting sleepy.
We all needed a break. Ron, my older brother, went downstairs
to get a coffee for himself and Bobbie. I wandered over to a
computer lounge with a picturesque view of Lake Michigan.
If only I had been able to enjoy it. It was one of those moments,
you know, when you just stare out of the window …
“Prayer is like dialing long distance to ‘De Aibishter’”, the
voice of my late mentor, Reb Isser, spoke to me. “’Call His
number’ every day, Mr. Busch and remember to pray with
your heart. You may get a busy signal, lots of folks trying to
reach Him, so be patient or leave a message. He returns every
call.”

The sound of my brother’s voice “awakens” me. "It's so sad,"
Ron remarked, remarking that he and Dad had made it to the
bathroom in time that morning.

“You did? That’s good news!”

“Wait. There’s more. Dad told me he needed to sit for a while,
and that I should lie back down for a few more minutes. He’d
call when finished. Shortly thereafter, I heard him quietly
crying.” Ron detailed the rest of the day, one that had gone
from bad to worse.

Is it still okay if your father cries?

I watch him for hours while he sleeps. His once cheerful face is
now gaunt and expressionless. This is how he’ll look when he
dies, I suppose. I try to block such thoughts, but they intrude
upon my privacy nevertheless.I glance at the clock radio, 3:00 a.m.
Outside our door, I catch a glimpse of the early morning nurses’ aides
as they scurry about from room to room. Barbara, a heavy set woman
in her mid-forties, currently assists Dad. I like her. She is good
at what she does and seems to care about my father.

I return to the same computer lounge at 3:15 a.m.
No other souls but me and the sound of Reb Isser’s voice
faintly echoing in my memory… “Keep dialing His number.
De Aibishter will pick up. You’ll see ...”

“Ribono shel Olam … I do not presume any merit of my own.
My father, without rancor, awaits his end of days. He has taught
this lesson of faith and trust to me by his personal example.
Please help my father, Avrum ben Rose. Heal his bowel so that he
may live out his last days in dignity and peace.”

And so, I waited to hear from Him “who heals all flesh and
performs wonders.” As the days wore on, I summoned all
of my faith that The One Above had heard my plea and would
answer my prayer. We waited for the tincture of opium to do its job.
Dad’s first few days at home were tenuous.

And then the phone rang …

“Good morning Alan!”

“Dad?” I answered, surprised both by the call itself and the
upbeat tone of his voice, “So Dad, what’s …?”

“It’s worked. The tincture, Son, has finally kicked in,” he
blared so excitedly I had to remove the phone from
my ear. And kicked in it had, my father’s happiness … well, it
skyrocketed. “So Dad, tell me how you feel?” I asked, sharing
in his excitement. “Sonny Boy, I feel … I feel,” his voice
cracking ever so slightly. “I feel … like I’ve so much to be
thankful for.

My father’s struggle reminds us of the importance of
choosing life when sickness all too often extinguishes hope
and all is given up to surrender. In my father’s case, cancer was
killing him, a fact he recognized and accepted with calm and
grace.The diarrhea, on the other hand, represented a formidable
obstacle which we overcame by the combination of my
father’s sheer drive to emerge the victor and the power of
prayer. When he passed away on Shabbos morning, October
18, 2008, he did so as a man at peace whose dignity had been
restored.

Alan D. Busch
09/01/09

Saturday, August 08, 2009





Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Friends,

to read my latest published piece in the Orthodox Union.
The photo above is of my late father Brigadier General Dr. Albert I. Busch, Z'L about whom I write in this piece, of our time together in the last days of his life.
Please do leave a comment at the article's end.
Sincerely,
Alan D. Busch
8/8/09

Sunday, July 26, 2009



Where authors and readers come together!

http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewpoetry.asp?id=259573


please click on this link to read three jewish love poems, two of which will be read on THE BEN BRESKY SHOW on ISRAEL NATIONAL RADIO this Tuesday.

Ty,

Alan D. Busch



Monday, July 20, 2009




Please copy and paste the link below to read the newly published poem "Shacharis Musings" in the summer 2009 edition of Poetica Magazine.

http://www.authorsden.com/adstorage/79100/page 48.pdf

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Where authors and readers come together!





Our Future Began In Our Past

Certain childhood experiences are like good teachers.
And good teachers are like road maps. They show you
the several ways to travel from point “a” to point “b”.
The route you choose, well… that’s left up to you.

There are always, as everyone knows, certain stopping
points along the way. Whether it is to rest, eat or
appreciate the beauty of the scenery, we come away
feeling that we are qualitatively better off than
before, perhaps even indelibly impressed, reinvigorated,
ready to go on until such time when we need we pull off
the road again.

Unlike the certainty and convenience of small towns
strung along the interstate-there is no map we can
consult to find the next rest area point while cruising
life’s spiritual highways, The time and distance interval
between any two points may be brief or it may happen,
as it did in my case, that years pass before we reach the next
point on the map. What we do know, however, is-no matter how bizarre
or pedestrian the stopping off points may seem at
the time of their occurrence, their great value lies in the
life-long impressions they imprint upon our memories
and values. Only when we retrace our steps do we
realize how very fortunate, albeit unaware, we were to
have experienced what we did at the time.

“v’al titosh Toras imecha” (adhere to your mother's instruction)

The year was 1959. Everything about my parents’
divorce happened quickly. Just days before we had
been a “regular” family: father, mother, children.
Suddenly, my brother and I found ourselves living with
our mother and maternal grandmother in Olivette,
Missouri. My father remained in Chicago.

For reasons not entirely clear either then or now, my
mother enrolled us in the Epstein Hebrew Academy,
the first Orthodox Hebrew day school in Missouri, soon
after we arrived in St. Louis. It was, in retrospect, a good
beginning. My mother told me she “had grown up in a
fine home” that my grandmother Jean worked hard to
provide for herself and her two daughters, my mom and
her sister Iris. “But without any Jewish atmosphere except
on the high holidays,” she added.

“I thought it would be good for you boys,” my mother
explained when I asked her about her decision to enroll
us in the Epstein Academy. And looking back, my
mother was right. It was a good idea. Problem was we
felt like fish out of water. My brother and I hadn’t
received any prior Jewish training either in school or at
home, and I don’t recall having any personal Jewish
awareness at the time. To me (and Ron) it seemed a
scary, unfamiliar world of which neither of us wanted
any part. My sole memory of the Epstein Academy was
of the alphabet chart on our classroom walls about
which I complained to my mother. The letters were
unrecognizable, looking nothing at all like the “abc (s)”
I had learned before we moved to St Louis. Naturally
but unbeknownst to us at the time, we had been
looking at the aleph-beis, the Hebrew Alphabet.
We complained so bitterly that within a week our mother
enrolled us in public school.

As a result of my “close encounter” with Torah
Judaism, I grew up a Jew who knew virtually nothing
about his Judaism-its richness eluding me and countless
other Jewish children whose attachment to Jewish life
was and would remain cultural rather than Torah-based.
My life would probably have been different had I
not disliked the Epstein Academy so passionately and
pressured my mother to withdraw our registration.
But I learned later-when I embraced my faith as
an adult-things happen as they do for the best. There is
no second guessing the ways of The One Above, despite
the many cynically “rational” voices to the contrary.

My upbringing didn’t lack the threads of Jewish life
(although there were many we were missing) as much
as we lacked its fabric. We celebrated the holidays in the
dining room of Aunt Iris and Uncle Marvin’s house.
Our one annual Passover seder, always replete with
ample supplies of machine matzah and a fabulous meal,
was the most memorable. Aunt Iris (whom we
nicknamed Aunt “I”) was a great cook. Uncle Marvin
led us through the redemption of our people, according
to the Haggadah from Maxwell House.

Shavuos and Sukkos were unknown to us. We
celebrated Rosh Ha Shana and broke the fast of Yom
Kippur with festive meals. We did not light candles, but
my mother did plug in an electric menorah each of the
eight days of Chanukkah.

My First Shabbos

It was exceedingly difficult not to love Reb Moishe and
Chava Grossman. The parents of Harold Grossman,
my mother’s second husband, Reb Moishe and Chava
became Morris and Eve upon their passage through
Ellis Island. A tiny twosome who lived fifty yards from
their synagogue Nusach Ari B’nai Zion, they were a
quaint, picture-perfect couple of old-fashioned dignity,
each crowned with snow white hair. I felt drawn to Reb
Moishe and Chava who spoke the blend of Yiddish and
English that author Leo Rosten dubbed “Yinglish”.
There was something about them I found so …
charming, I guess.

When the sun sets on Friday afternoon, Erev Shabbos
begins. For observant Jews, the Shabbos is kadosh,
separate and holy, a reminder of the Creation.
To me, an eight-year old Jewish boy attending public
school and living outside the observant Jewish
community, it was Friday night. I had no idea that
another state of being, Shabbos, existed on a parallel
but higher plane than our own.

Harold, my mom and I stopped in one Friday night to
visit his parents. Already several minutes after sundown
when we arrived, we found Harold’s parents sitting
quite properly on their plastic cover-fitted sofa, in total
darkness, as if nothing were amiss. Except for what little
remained of the Shabbos nerot, Sabbath candles,there was
no other light to be had.

We sat down with them in a state of virtual bemusement
for several moments until Harold, his patience exhausted,
rose from his seat.

"Pa,” he pled incredulously, always the dutiful son but
who had forsworn Jewish religious observance when he
enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor, "You're ‘gonna’
sit here in the dark?! Lemme tur ..."

"Zol zein shtil, Herschele! 'Don' touch!” barked Zaide , but
who did not pronounce the 't' in ‘don't’.

"But, but ... " Harold blurted out.

"But, but 'nuting'! Shah!" Zaide thundered.

"Ma!?" pled the son."It'll be fine tatele. Listen to your father,"
Bubbie counseled.

"Mom, why are we sitting in the dark?" I asked,
absolutely intrigued by this most bizarre circumstance.

"Shah! Listen to Bubbie."

(If only Mel Brooks could have seen this!)

To this day some forty-seven years later, I do not know
if the Grossmans had failed to set their timers or simply
forgotten to switch on their Sabbath lights. It remains
nonetheless a fond albeit befuddled memory to this very day.

After a half hour, we drove back home to Friday night
leaving behind the fascination of Erev Shabbos. Though
I was only eight years old at the time, its mystery had
definately piqued my interest.

A Lifetime Later

The return road to explore that mystery upset many lives:
those of my family, my children, my job, my marriage.I could
not have imagined the danger that lay ahead

“I feel this emptiness in my gut,” I confessed to my wife..
We were out one summer evening and had stopped to
pick up some ice cream. The kids were home. There
wasn’t much time to talk things over. It was nearly
sundown. I noticed several cars hurriedly pulling
into the parking lot of the shul just across the way from
where we had parked the car.

“I want to be part of that,” I said, pointing to the shul.

“But we’ve not lived that way. It’s too much. We didn’t
raise the kids in a kosher home. I just don’t get why you
cannot be happy with where we are.”

“Jan,” I turned and looked at her, “I don’t understand it
myself, but I know in my heart it’s real.”

We headed back home. “You’re sure about this?” she
turned to me, “because I can’t go with you.”

“I know that, I really do,” I smiled understandingly.

“What about the kids?" she wondered.

“Tonight, we’ll tell them tonight.”


“Your mother and I love you unconditionally,” I
began with our youngest. I looked at her, the mother
of my children and wife of twenty-four years, as if to
get the final go-ahead. She nodded approvingly. “But
Mom and I have decided … “

Zac, our youngest, wept a little boy’s tears. Ben, our
oldest, was incredulous at the announcement but had
known something was not right between us for a long
time. Kimberly, our middle child, had just completed her
freshman year at the university. Her mother drove
down and told her on the way home.

I moved out of my house soon thereafter to a nearby
apartment. Our children remained at home with their
mom, but I tended my bonds with them unfailingly.
I navigated the path of Jewish observance, at times very
clumsily, I feared. Unaware of its many gaping potholes
which surely lay ahead, I felt uncertain I understood the
road map before me.

Alan D. Busch
7/13/09