Saturday, January 29, 2011

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Dear Friends,

Please click on the above link to read the book synopsis of Alan's second book Between Fathers and Sons.

Thank you,

Alan D. Busch

p.s. more of Alan's work can be read at and

Monday, January 10, 2011

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Living With Parkinson's Disease

By Alan D Busch

In the first in a series of essays, Chicago writer Alan D. Busch examines the nature of the relationship between his Jewish faith and Parkinson's Disease with which he has lived now for eleven years.

Living With Parkinson's Disease (A Jew of Faith Explores The Presence of Parkinson's in His Life)

A Series by Alan D. Busch

Living with Parkinson's Disease is like taking a ride on a pendulum but with two caveats: first, once you're on you can't get off unless you fall off and secondly, while one pendulous swing takes you back to your familiar past the other brings you closer to an uncertain future that begins to look more like today with each morning's sunrise.

A progressively worsening disease over time, I admit how wrong I was years ago shortly after my doctor diagnosed my Parkinson's to persist in the folly of denial, trying to fool myself and others that mine was a mild case and would eventually "max out" upon reaching a certain plateau and progress no further.

Well, it never happened and won't.

The simple truth of the matter is it's all uphill from here on and at an ever increasing angle of incline. In everyday terms, I feel good less often more frequently.

Now don't get me wrong. I do have good days when I feel like a "million bucks". I am neither adopting the "chicken little" approach nor any longer deluding myself that Parkinson's will not continue to play an important role in my life.

I seek nobody's pity, but I do want folks to pay attention to my message: there is no weapon more formidable in our psycho-spiritual arsenal than the alliance between old fashioned stubbornness and the power of prayer and devotion.

On the other hand, the "Parkinsonian" challenges I face every day have strengthened my resolve to live my life as best I can. I learned this approach from my late son Ben Z'L and his grandfather, my dad, Dr. Albert I. Busch, ZT'L both of whom doggedly fought off disease and disability.

As with diabetes management, given proper maintenance and lifestyle, Parkinson’s needn't prevent me from leading a relatively full life, but I ask readers to remember that the key to living well with Parkinson's Disease, as with other afflictions, is to live life purposefully.
The fact my body is not functioning properly as it did for so long is, indeed, lamentable, but that fact is never sufficient reason to throw in the towel.

Adopting a vacuous approach, the absence of belief and trust in G-d and the power of prayer or a simple negative approach of feeling sorry for myself would only hasten my demise, leaving me without the support of community, alone and lonely.

Did you ever have a lemonade stand when you were a kid? Do you remember what the old expression advises if you're ever handed lemons? Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and set an example, become an inspiration to others, be able to say at the end of day: "I've changed a lot of lives for the better."

Physical strength is as fleeting as youth itself, especially if unwedded to "the spirituality of purposefulness". It simply is not enough to lift weights; a better use of your time would be to show folks who need help how to lift the weight of their affliction from their shoulders.

First though, I think it important to understand what we're dealing with here, of how it feels to pendulate from one extreme to the other while navigating the sometimes perilous waters of Parkinson's Disease.

Follow these instructions. And yes, you may and should try this at home. Okay, are you ready?

Step 1: Place an empty shoe box on the table in front of you. (If you haven't a shoe box, any box of similar size will do.) Position it on the table within arms’ reach so that you’ll be able to pick it up when I instruct you to do so.

Step 2: Place your hands in your pockets and do not remove them until I tell you, okay? Now, ready for the third step?

Step 3: Pick up the box. Uh uh, no, no, put your hands back in your pockets. Okay, try it again. Pick up the box.

Step 4: I see you're having some difficulty. Once again. On the count of three ...1, 2, 3 pick up the box.

Step 5: Are you alright? That wasn’t too bad, was it? Oh, you can remove your hands from your pockets.

You now have a "hands on" slightly hyperbolized understanding of what PD often feels like to me. Equally important is the awareness that symptomology varies among different PD sufferers. On the other hand, we do have some overlapping of disabilities and medications, but far more interesting is Parkinson's sufferers tend to look alike when our medication levels are low.

It’s the funniest thing. I’ve two friends who have Parkinson's who bear no resemblance to me whatsoever. Yet there are times when we do look alike. We shuffle instead of walk, our speech is slurred and we’re unable to raise the volume of our voices. Our posture is stiff and our faces are frozen as if to say: "Please don't look at me when I'm like this."

Waiting for medications to kick in can be frustrating. The waiting at times seems interminable. I view it differently by remembering how grateful I'll feel when my gait normalizes and my hands work again along with many other benefits.

You see? Good things do come to those who wait.

G-d grants each of us a finite number of days and a gift box of our unique strengths, weaknesses, talents, deficiencies and last but not least ... free will. What we do with the contents of our gift boxes is another matter but, as you probably are aware, so much depends upon how each of us uses his free will.

Remember that the next time life makes you grumpy. Take a look at the next fellow's situation. Now reevaluate your own and repeat after me: "Azayhu ashir?" (Who is rich?) "Hasameach b'chelko." (He who is happy with his lot.)*

*Chapter 4, Pirkei Avos, (Ethics of Our Fathers)

Alan D. Busch

Sunday, January 02, 2011

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Dear Friends,

This is the first of two pieces I wrote after my interview with Israeli Professor Dan Porat, author of an excellent book "The Boy: A Holocaust Story". Have you seen the picture of the little boy with his hands up with that nazi soldier behind him?

My piece is a follow up to Professor Porat's talk he gave at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Il. the link for which I'll post shortly. In the meantime, read the first piece and buy the book too. You won't regret the purchase

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Readers,

This piece I wrote in observance of my son Ben's tenth Yahrzeit. It's been reprinted in a variety of places, one of which you'll find by googling "parenting tips.

Where authors and readers come together!

Dear Friends,

Please click on this link to a piece I recently wrote while in and coming back home from New York. I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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(parental grief in a Jewish holy place)

I kindle a soul light for thee this eve,
when dawn awakens, I'll be able to see
a shadow of thy face ere mine eyes
as was before and shall always be.

Each morn I gather me to this place,
wherein I've heard G-d resides.
I search but Him I have not seen
His face as from Moshe hides.

A gray beard weeps over an ancient folio bent
in whom there yet burns the holy flame.
"Why art thou here too, Rebbe?" I ask.
"The reason, my son, is like yours the same."

"A lifetime ago I've forsaken him not,
like you I won't let his memory to fade.
I am here to assuage a young father's pain
so that aloneness not make him any more afraid."

revised 11/10/10

Alan D. Busch

Saturday, November 06, 2010

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poetry of grief within a Jewish holy place


I kindle a soul light for thee on this eve,
when dawn awakens, I'll be able to see
a shadow of thy face ere mine eyes
as was before and shall always be.

Each morn I gather me to this place,
wherein I've heard it said G-d resides.
I search but Him I have not seen
His face as from Moshe He hides.

A gray beard weeps over an ancient folio bent,
in whom there yet burns the holy flame.
"Why art thou here too, Rebbe?" I ask.
"My reason like yours is the same."

"A lifetime ago I've forsaken him not,
Like you I won't let his memory to fade,
I'm here to assuage a young father's pain
Lest aloneness make him afraid."

By Alan D. Busch


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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"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

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"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