An Encouraging Word

My father, Norman Busk, gets far too little attention in these musings. He was a man who took his responsibilities as a father seriously. He supported our family at any number of jobs, from farming to running a construction company to selling insurance. He was even tempered, level-headed, and steady. And once only did I ever hear him swear.

I was in my late twenties when my grandfather died. I didn’t attend his funeral nor did any of my sisters. When my dad came to visit and asked me why none of his daughters were there, I decided it was finally time to tell him the truth–that his father had molested me when I was seven. As it turns out I was not alone. None of us had told for all the usual reasons—we thought it was our fault; we thought no one would believe us. Long before #MeToo, it was one of those he said/she said cases. Of course if we had ALL told, things might have been different.

But I told him that afternoon. When I finished, he got up off the sofa, strode across my living room, and stood in front of the window for a long time, staring silently at Kitt Peak. Finally he spun around and said, “If I’d known about that, I would have taken my shotgun and killed that son of a bitch!” And I believe he would have, too. But that moment of instant belief and validation was and is an incredible gift to me. And this isn’t the story I intended to tell when I first opened my computer this morning, but I needed to because it speaks volumes about his character.

What I really wanted to tell you this morning, is that Norman Busk (My mother never called him Norm!) was a very funny and courageous man.

In his early eighties, he woke up one morning with a severe pain in his right side and allowed as how perhaps he and my mother should take a drive out to Sierra Vista to visit the family doctor, Doc Dregseth. Unfortunately, it was Wednesday morning and my mother had a standing appointment at Cut and Curl to have her hair done on Wednesday mornings. After the hair appointment, they drove the 25 miles to Sierra Vista where Dr. Dregseth determined my dad needed an appendectomy post haste!

So they went to the hospital where a sweet young clerk was tasked with assembling his patient-intake information. When she asked if he’d ever been hospitalized before he said, “Yes, nineteen eighteen for the flu.” That made her eyes bug out. When she asked if he’d ever had AIDs, he said, “Of course, I have AIDS. I have hearing aids, seeing aids, and chewing aids,” pointing to his hearing aids, his glasses, and his false teeth each in turn. He was admitted to the hospital and sent to surgery where his inflamed appendix was removed within bare minutes of rupturing. The next time he came through the hospital lobby, the young woman pointed at him and said, “Hey, there’s that guy with aids!”

So even at death’s door, he was there with a ready joke. By the way, he was hospitalized for several days. When he complained of having a terrible headache, the indomitable Evie figured out that the hospital was giving him decaf instead of “real” coffee. She made it her business to get him the good stuff, and the headache magically disappeared.

So why am I writing and thinking about both my parents today? You’re probably not going to like my answer: Coronavirus. The tradition in journalism has long been, “If it bleeds it leads,” and coronavirus coverage has been non-stop. And now, because of the partisan divide, it is turning into a political football with people standing around yelling at one another rather than putting their backs together and doing what needs to be done to face this looming crisis. Because it is a crisis. Coronavirus may be something new under the sun, but pandemics are not. I want our leaders on both sides of the aisle to roll up their shirtsleeves and deal with it.

My father was little more than a baby when he survived the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. He lasted well into his nineties. Yes we have some niggling worries about our upcoming cruise. There has been wall-to-wall media coverage of passengers stranded on quarantined cruise ships. And I’m sure every would-be traveler who has forked over money for cruises this year is having the same kind of thoughts. But we’re still going. And I fully expect that we’ll have fun.

Going on a cruise doesn’t count for nearly the amount of courage my dad showed when he sold off everything, packed his worldly goods into a trailer, stuffed his pregnant wife and three daughters into a 1949 Ford, and moved from South Dakota to Arizona. He gave up everything that was familiar—being a farmer—for becoming a miner. With patience and good humor, he and my mother made it all work. Like the Big Lebowski, they abided.

And in the face of coronavirus, so will we.

22 thoughts on “An Encouraging Word

  1. Thanks for sharing your Dad with us today. He sounds like a very good man. Family secrets hurt no matter when they are shared. I am glad you saw and heard how he reacted. True love and I hope that helped heal the buried pain. I agree that we need to pay attention to the Coronavirus situation without panic . Our elected officials need to treat this as something important not just a way to get more votes. Panic won’t help but caution will.

  2. I must admit I have wondered about your upcoming cruise and what your mind set was about it. Praying all goes well and you and Bill have a wonderful time.
    Your dad sounds like mine. He was life loving and always had everyone laughing with his humor and quick wit. That humor and wit was passed down to all in his family. I remember at a family gathering my then 9 year old enough said something very humorous and witty and a cousin of ours said, “My God there’s 3 generations of them!”
    My father would have also taken a gun to anyone who harmed his family in any way. I am so sorry this happened to you and your sisters and by someone who should have been a trusted figure in your life.
    Have fun on your cruise, take precautions for your health and please, if either of you develop any worrisome symptoms seek medical attention.

  3. We cancelled our Greek Islands cruise leaving out of Venice Italy the first week of June.
    Wanted to cancel while we could get all our money back.

  4. Thank God for you (yes, that was capitalized because that’s who I’m thanking) and for your own level head !

  5. My grandfather died of the flu on 28 Feb 1920 in Hood River, Oregon. He left his wife with 5 kids to raise by herself.

  6. Your memory of your father speaks volume. We all have those and to me sometimes it keeps me up at night wondering what more (if anything) more we can do for them. I will always cherish time with him. As to Virus, WELL SAID. Yo should be in Washington running the nation, you are younger than some of these guys (on both side of aisle) and more level headed.

  7. Thank you, Judith Jance, for every word you wrote today. And every day, for that matter. You and I both had fine, courageous fathers, one of God’s great blessings.
    Their spirit, instilled in their descendants, will carry us through most anything, if we let it. We needed this today!

  8. Your dad’s comments reminded me of a dear friend who could always find the humor in any situation. The last time she went to the emergency room due to heart issues the doc came into the exam room and asked “What brought you here today, ma’am?” She replied ” I believe it was a Buick.”

  9. first, LOVED the stories about Norman!
    Second, I haven’t been following the politics of it all. But, I was raised within 100 miles of the Nevada Test Site during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Where school children were actually taught how disperse food and water during a radioactive event!
    Now I live in the Midwest with floods, tornadoes and blizzards. The point of all this is, I grew up learning its best to be prepared for the next emergency. While I am not a survivalist, you won’t find me at the 11th hour out buying flashlights.
    For a medical situation, I expect the same of the US.
    ps…enjoy your trip,
    stay safe!

  10. As always, what you shared is relevant and important, and I appreciate what you share.

    Wishing you a bon voyage! We have a cruise booked for October, and I hope the current concerns are behind us by then.

  11. The last paragraph of your most recent blog struck 1+ chords with me. This time next month my wife and I will be on a cruise. This will be her 14th and my 15th. I took one when I was single. I won’t count the number of cruises I took in 4 1/2 years in the Navy. Back in he 19830’s, one of my uncles, his eight children and a seven month pregnant wife loaded a car and trailer to move from Iowa to Washington. Enjoy your cruise.

  12. Love to hear of your dad, and his reaction, of your lost innocence! Loved reading your piece on out needs to pick up, and survive!

  13. It is ironic that you write of your dad on the very day my dad passed, I feel now that as I read this that in some small way it was meant to bring peace to a grieving son. My dad was not only my dad , But my mentor, hero and best friend a son could have. Because of the Coronavirus we had to postpone my dad’s memorial service. Which would have been Friday March 20th. I am so sorry to hear of your issue with your grandfather, I hate that kind of behavior. In closing enjoy your cruise and live life to the fullest.

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