Betsy Speicher

In Memory of Janet Busch - "oldsalt"

20 posts in this topic

It has been a long time since we have heard from Janet Busch (link) also known as oldsalt (link) and today would have been her 63rd birthday. The reason why she stopped posting was, as I feared and recently confirmed, she is no longer with us. Although FORUM records indicate she last logged on at 03:43 AM 28th April 2008, Social Security Records say she passed away on May 27th (link).

Stephen and I and the FORUM members who knew Janet loved her. She had the rare qualities of down-to-earth honesty, a passion for values, and plenty of spunk. They showed in her posts (link, link) as well as in one of the last e-mails she sent me. I would like to share it with you.

4/21/2008

Dearest Betsy:

I hardly know how to begin this letter, except to say that it is a very difficult one to write because I know it will bring you and others pain. I've put it off and put it off, but that was mainly because I didn't have the energy and focus to do a proper job. Now with excuses out of the way . . . .I'm hoping that you will share it with the FORUM, however, and spare me the effort (and my own pain in having to do so) That said, here goes:

I have been hospitalized, finally, for the last 13 days. They discovered metastatic cancer which has affected, among other places, my spine, causing compression against the cord, and other bones, my lymph nodes, my brain, my R. lung, and other organs and places. In other words, my time is limited. I don't know, and neither do the doctors, how long. It seems I will roller-coaster along, more or less, a flat line, then plunge (if that makes sense). They are controlling my pain well and I'm finally able to function, though extremely slowly and with difficulty, but I'm doing it!

And that is an important point I want to make to my friends. I have no more control over my death than anyone else does, but I’m perfectly capable of controlling how I choose to live, just as I’ve always done.

My mental and intellectual attitudes are very good. There are many, many things to be happy about and I am so–to the point of finding myself smiling at the most incongruous times. The support and care I am getting from family, friends, professionals, and others is beyond belief, and brings a full understanding to Lou Gehrig’s statement that “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I hope this helps my friends here. When there is nothing to do, one must accept those things we cannot change. Basic metaphysics. I've written some of the above to a shared blog I contribute to at times. Here, however, I don't have to add reams of of explanation as to what I mean -- thank God. (Heh.)

I would like to share the some of the important things. When I say that I'm emotionally good, I mean that the clarity of the facts of what I've been enduring now for, who knows how long, has freed me up to really determine care, and accept it. They've informed me that the ol' "I can do it" stiff-upper-lip isn't appreciated and not encouraged. So, no more closing my eyes and thinking of England. Add to that certain ways of thinking, et al, which are not valid. [...]

Next epistemological step: My intellectual attitudes and the spiral of knowledge:

I'll add that this also, and perhaps mainly, addresses my spiritual life.

I sit daily and watch 15 minutes of City Debate on this budget argument. I watch 15 minutes of the Pope's farce. Obama's campaign. Hilliary's hillbilly machinations. The stupidities on the floor of the august, most serious floor of the Senate. As I watch, I think of the excellent descriptions of arguments in the Pre-Revolutionary parliament of England, and especially the Burgesses of Virginia given to us in the Sparrowhawk Series. The penny drops along the spiral of what is given in the book, and my own experiences and knowledge (gained when I hardly knew it) and I see there is no difference, except among the beneficiaries.

An especial aside here! Mr. Cline's series has kept me going. I'm trying to spend what focused time I can manage studying what he has spectacularly offered for a pittance. Thank you Mr. Cline. You have given me what before I received only from Miss Rand when I was facing the one other major spiritual crisis of my life. Then, in a hospital, a little volunteer came in and handed me a copy of Atlas Shrugged. This last Thanksgiving, someone gave me your whole series, which I've already read (of each) four times. I only got the Companion book one day before they sent me to the ER. I've been very frustrated because I not only cannot concentrate, I can't even make the characters line up properly, much less make a sentence. I figure it gives me something to shoot for. But, DAMN. Anyway, thank you Mr. Cline, for feeding my soul when it was starving.

[...]

oldsalt

My favorite post was this gem of a Thanksgiving remembrance (link) that Janet wrote in 2006. Enjoy! I'm sure many of you also have your own favorite posts and memories of oldsalt.

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My favorite post was this gem of a Thanksgiving remembrance (link) that Janet wrote in 2006. Enjoy! I'm sure many of you also have your own favorite posts and memories of oldsalt.

I remember Stephen thinking oldsalt should write professionally after reading this Thanksgiving remembrance.

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Thank you, Betsy, for letting us read Janet's letter. Like you, and probably other, I would receive PMs and emails from Janet quite ofter and unfortunately they came to an abrupt stop. Janet would write and tell me of her friends that were still in the military, especially Marines, what they were doing and how they were handling it. She truly loved her Navy and was quite proud of it also. I will and have missed her.

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I'm truly saddened by this news. I really loved her postings. She was a genuinely fun person to read and I had hoped she would show up to post again. That's two whole years ago! I have been missing her and now I'll always miss her.

Thanks for that letter, Betsy.

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Thank-you, Betsy, for letting us know of Janet's death. Although I had suspected that such was the case, I am nonetheless deeply saddened to have it confirmed. For me, Janet's posts were the product of a joyously generous spirit and will remain treasures of lucidity, calm and Reason.

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Thank you, Betsy, for letting us know. I am deeply saddened by the news as well. I have always looked forward to her posts and that anticipation did not fade as years went by. I have missed her.

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Sorry to hear of Janet's passing.

I've passed on her comments on the "Sparrowhawk" series to author Ed Cline.

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Yes, thank you, Betsy, for sharing this with us. I remember reading Janet's posts early on in my membership to THE FORUM (and thereafter), and immediately knowing that this place had someone special among its members. Your description of her rare combination of qualities is right on. I have missed her, and will continue to.

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It saddens me to learn of Janet's death. I've thought of her often and wondered why she stopped posting. I'll miss her. I enjoyed her posts and discussions over the years here.

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This was another one that was hard to take. By the time of Janet's "birthday Forum post" on Jul 12 2008 I figured she was gone, but didn't want to say anything without confirmation, which I hadn't found then, so as not to violate her privacy. She had previously become harder to reach for obvious reasons.

About three months before she died she wrote to me about her illness and also included some more on her enjoyment of Sparrowhawk:

Sat, 23 Feb 2008

I apologize for not acknowledging your e-mail earlier. I haven't been on-line much, and have even let my inbox become full so that it has been rejecting further e-mails.

The short answer to your question is that no, everything hasn't been alright -- not for many months. I have been very ill and in great pain. I'm on a lot of medicine that, while necessary, saps me of what little energy I have on a good day.

I have been fighting back by immersing myself in Ed Cline's Sparrowhawk series. It has been inspiring to me on many levels. It is a pure treat to read something original, well-written, with so many characters that one would welcome at one's dinner table. It has also informed me about aspects of this country's history that I was unaware of, except on the most superficial level. I know it is properly called an historical novel, but I would classify it as a political thriller! What little time I've been on-line has been spent researching the original documents, especially of English law as it was applied to the colonies, beginning with the Navigation Laws. What an eye-opener.

Anyway, the books, and Dr. Ridpath's lectures on early American history have kept my mind occupied with something I'm interested in, so all is not terrible.

Thank you for your note. It means a great deal to me. There are some things I'd like to discuss with you when my mind is working a little better. The election doesn't bode well, not on any level, but on the environmental front it is a disaster no matter who wins. I won't be voting in this election. I can only hold my nose and pick the lesser of two evils for so long before the evil on all sides is so great that any vote constitutes a form of slow suicide -- only the form it may take differs. Personally, what is happening to medicine has had as direct an impact as that of a law that allows the taking of my property!

I miss most of you on the forum.

With warmest regards,

Janet

A few days before her email to Betsy the news was worse. She wrote:

Fri, 18 Apr 2008

I have been in the hospital for the last 10 days, very ill. I have megastatic cancer, mainly in my R. lung, spine, bones, lymph nodes, addrenales, and brain.

That is the bad news. There is good news in that I am getting absolutely the best care I could possibly get, and I mean this absolutely. There are reasons for this, but it would take time that I don't want to spend at this point, so let's just say that I lucked out. Once again, the fundmental reason is that I'm an Objectivist. Once again, the spiritual context given me from Objectivism has given me the right way to deal with what is happening.

This is the first mail I've sent to any of our friends. I've gone through it, and what I want to say, so many times that I'm drawing a blank now. I think it comes under the rubric of details. Lots and lots of details, and new things recognized, and new conclusions drawn. No matter what, I always come away with a new respect for Miss Rand.

But I see that there is a share of admiration from me belonging to you, and certain of our friends, who have helped me understand my own worth. Pity it took so long, but I've finally understood that I cannnot afford any cowardice, so whatever fear that ruled has wonderfully disappeared. I'm dying (as are we all), but I have control over the way I look at my life.

I don't want to start rambling, and I'm getting tired, so I'll close. I promise not to put either of us in further peril with dangerous practices.

With deepest warm regards,

Janet

That was the last I hear from her. Janet liked to watch the stars from the boat she lived on -- especially the enormity of what can be seen on a dark night with a clear sky and no terrestrial light interference -- and had posted a query a few years earlier about how to understand the enormous distances. I had been meaning to respond sooner but hadn't gotten to it, so the same day I of her last communication I posted a response, hoping that she would get to see it and watch the video I suggested. Since she logged in on April 28 maybe she at least saw the explanation. All the conceptual aspects would not have been at the center of her attention then, but she sought to maintain her active mind to the end.

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Eric, thank you for posting Janet's emails to you.. She was a truly noble human being, right up to the end.

I agree on Janet and the thanks.

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I did not know her personally, but from what everyone has shared of her I would have liked to. Thank you for posting your memories, and my condolences to those suffering the loss.

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It's very sad to hear that such a sparkling mind has faded away. I often wondered what had happened to her; she was a wonderful writer who added greatly to the quality of this Forum.

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It's very sad to hear that such a sparkling mind has faded away. I often wondered what had happened to her; she was a wonderful writer who added greatly to the quality of this Forum.

I'm glad that Betsy looked up the records to confirm the date. It was obvious to me from the monstrous symptoms Janet described a couple of years ago that she didn't have much time left, and it has been in the back of my mind and sometimes the front that it was never resolved here on the Forum beyond the "birthday post" that she never responded to because she was already gone..

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