Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where authors and readers come together!

"When A Father Loses A Daughter", revision of what used to be entitled "Loss and Gain"

He took one life but gave back two …

How flows the divine arithmetic I cannot sum.

When his daughter’s death leaves her father benumb,

Such are His mysteries none too few.

Crushing broad shoulders oh bitterest shame …

yet summons his strength to pray a father’s grief.

He awakens from nightmares as if a falling leaf …

ere long were sent him twin miracles came.

He taketh yet giveth back to this, His world.

Hold them fast ‘til you’ve strength no more … l

est their souls forever depart toward eternity soar.

Blanket them with tenderness gently unfurled.

He sits as if for a portrait and every day weeps …

while recalling yesterday’s laughter now mute.

Nary a faint echo of her schoolgirl’s flute,

that he plays for her, in his memory keeps.

Alan D. Busch

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Readers,

As always, thank you for your on-going readership. I think this will be the final form of "Reckoning" that will appear as the the second or third chapter in my book, tentatively entitled Between Fathers and Sons ...


“Alan, come back here in the bedroom.” Dad does not feel well today. To see him lying in his disheveled sickbed is a disturbing sight. I spotted his “talis” (which was really his favorite sweater) crumpled into a ball and jammed in between the headboard and mattress. He wriggles uncomfortably atop his bedcovers. His head is scrunched up against four pillows, his frighteningly thin legs poke through the nearly threadbare ends of the same pajama pants he has worn for the past several days. A robust, barrel-chested golden glove pugilist in his youth, my father was someone you’d want to have on your side in a fight.

“Do you remember thinking I was going to die that morning?” I nodded.“Well Son, I wasn’t ready to die right then and, as a matter of fact,” he added emphatically “the thought never entered my head.” I’d always admired but feared my father’s toughness.“Dad, when I first saw you laid out on that gurney I was stunned and scared.”I swallowed hard. “Your skin was yellow, you were feverish and the diarrheafrom your “chemo” was unrelenting.

”Talk of death did not disturb Dad who spoke of it with the surety and dispassion of a man who had already squared his account with his Maker. He grimaced.“Dad, are you all right?” He didn’t hear so well any more. “Pain in your gut, Dad?” “Some yes,” he winced. “It’s been coming more frequently so I took a couple of Vicodin.”Dad often complained about how cold he felt during his two year battle against colon cancer. Even after I had covered him with as many as six blankets, it was never quite enough. Only that “talis” could took the edge off.“Dad, what kind of pain is it?” “It feels sore. You know, how I felt as a kid when I had eaten too many green apples.”

I didn’t believe one word though I understood what he was doing. Dad was being a dad, he thought, for my sake. As a matter of fact, his condition had worsened to the point that the short walks we had enjoyed taking as recently as the week before were no longer possible.

Leaving him on Friday afternoon, Erev Shabbat, filled me with separation anxiety. He became reflective with the approach of sundown, more so than at any other time of the week. Maybe he acquired his neshuma yeseira, the additional Sabbath soul, before anyone else. “You know I was thinking back when you were a baby,” his face brightened momentarily. “Did you know you were born with a club foot?” His eyes glistened. I’ll miss this tender part of him most, I think. “No, I didn’t,” I managed to respond albeit untruthfully. I had heard the club foot story many times, but each time was, at least for Dad, as if it were his first.“And I used to turn your foot and turn your foot, again and again, like this,” he showed me, tearfully twisting his hands as if disconnecting two rusty garden hoses.

“What time do you have, Son?” Dad asked, reaching for the box of tissues on the nightstand.“4:45,” I exhaled from utter exhaustion.“4.45! You better get going, Son. It’s getting late,” he cautioned. “Have a Good Shabbos”.“Hmm, he hadn’t ever said that before. Dad, I … uh, have a great weekend.”I cringed. “A great weekend? Dad’s dying and that’s the best I can come up with? Have a great weekend?”

Dad respected my beliefs though he may not always have agreed with them, but “Good Shabbos” wasn’t part of his world. I was left wondering why and why now.Dad taught me an invaluable lesson from years before when I was a newcomer to the observant community. We had been chatting on the phone for several minutes when he cheerilyannounced he had bought a new dental chair for his office.“Baruch Hashem,” I responded enthusiastically. In fact, I had been repeating the use of that phrase frequently throughout the course of our conversation. Eager to blend into the community as soon as possible, I didn’t realize (though I was old enough to have known better) that the harder I tried to “sound observant”, the more it became obvious I was “the new kid on theblock”.

“Alan, speak to me in language that I understand, Son!” Dad said, with a firmness I had experienced only two or three times before. I knew exactly what he meant. I had managed toannoy my father, not an easy thing to do.A patient man whose language, even when angry, never crossed the line between “firm”and “rude”, Dad struggled for years when I made the choice to become observant. Neither of ushad been prepared to cope with its disruptive effects upon family. He found it baffling as dideveryone else in my family.

Now fifteen years later, Dad was ready to make shalom. Just as we pray for length of days, so my father experienced his first “Kabbalat Shabbat”when, as it turned out, few in number were his remaining days.

It had been an exhausting afternoon. Dad, sitting up in bed against the headboard, looked sleepy and complained of cold feet. I covered and wrapped them loosely. Something was different todayabout our parting. The stubble of Dad’s unshaven whiskers no longer bothered me as it hadalways before when he kissed me goodbye. I inhaled his scent. Turning the front door knob everso slightly, I looked back to catch him peeking out from around the corner of the hallway. “Dad,”I called out, “Good Shabbos.” He smiled.

That tiny moment would remain ours forever.

Avi Mori, my father, my teacher, seemed content in the autumn of his days.

Alan D. Busch

June 24, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Where authors and readers come together!

"Loss and Gain" ... after a daughter leaves, her father struggles to live ... a friend lost his daughter to a freakish traffic accident. Dedicated to Noelle, late daughter of my friend Micky Peluso, author of And The Whippoorwill Sang.

He took one life but gave back two,

how flows His divine arithmetic I cannot sum ...

When a daughter’s sudden loss does a father benumb

unfathomable are His mysteries none too few.

Reaped undeservedly he this bitterest shame,

tear drops stream onto lips bespeaking his grief.

A dream became a nightmare’s fallen leaf ...

for him announced an angel twin miracles came.

He taketh, He giveth in this, His world,

enwrap them tightly until you can no more.

though souls depart and will forever soar,

cover them with kindness gently unfurled.

Each night wherein she lies a father comes to weep,

for he no longer hears his ballerina’s tiny laughter, now mute.

preserved long ago on a schoolgirl's recorder flute,

which he plays softly each night until she falls back to sleep.

Alan D. Busch

June 15, 2010