Introduction from Pat:
During the legal proceedings after Dave’s death, I was asked by our attorney to write a Life Sketch for Dave so that they and the opposing attorneys could have a better picture of the young boy, Davey, who became the young man, Dave. This was a difficult story for me to write for obvious reasons. I didn’t know where to begin with so many memories crashing around me. Even today, I know there was so much more I could have said about Dave, but I know I created this sketch from the deepest part of my heart—with many tears shed in the writing. It seemed like the right time, his birthday, to post this peek into Dave’s life; that special fellow we all knew and loved.
A Brief Biography of my son, Dave Buschow
Dave was born on the hot summer day of July 6, 1977. At first he seemed eager to meet the world, but momentarily changed his mind. With a bit more coaxing, he arrived with gusto and that’s how he continued to live the rest of his life!
It was a difficult time in our lives when Dave was born because his father and I were struggling through the last days of our marriage. I certainly questioned why, in the grand scheme of things, that Dave was entering our lives at such a difficult time. As his tiny hand clutched my finger, I looked into his eyes and said, “What’s ahead for you, little guy?”
It was clear from the start that Dave was our little ray of sunshine. He was sent to us to help us through the tough times — and that he did!! He didn’t know why we were crying, so he was just as cute as he could be to raise our spirits.
It broke my heart that he had to go to a babysitter each day so I could go to work. He would greet me every afternoon with the most heartwarming hugs. I silently cried each time I heard that he had done “something new” that I had missed. Years later I told Dave that I felt that his ability to “leave the nest” more readily than his big brother or sister was probably because he had been bounced around with babysitters. He sort of chuckled and said, “You may be right.”
Dave was a typical little boy; he loved his matchbox cars, GI Joes, and transformers.
He loved his big wheels and tried desperately to keep up with his brother and sister. After taking karate lessons, he and his brother loved playing ninjas. You’d never know when he’d jump out at you in his ninja outfit. He’d scare the hell out of me every single time!
He loved our vacations to the Poconos and the shore mostly because we could all be together 24-7 – something that was such a treat for all of us.
Since his brother was a Cub Scout, he couldn’t wait to be a Tiger Cub. He stayed in scouting from Tiger Cub to Star Scout. He earned all the required achievements, but his great love was the outdoors; he loved being in the woods hiking and camping. He left scouting for two reasons. He felt scouting didn’t spend enough time outdoors, plus it conflicted with his passion for soccer
He played soccer from the age of six playing on town recreational indoor and outdoor teams. He was a fast, strong player who scored at least one championship goal in the last five minutes of the game; something he had told me he had fantasized about. He moved into select teams, traveling teams, and finally the N.J. National Soccer Team with sponsors of Lipton and Minolta. We put lots of miles on our little car with all the traveling, but I loved being the “orange Mom” for the guys and watching Dave doing what he loved.
He continued playing Junior Varsity and Varsity Soccer in high school. In his senior year, the Varsity team, for the first time in the school’s history, won the Bergen County Championship. What a day that was! The team was especially proud of the win because at the beginning of the season, the coach was bemoaning the loss of two of his star players who had graduated the preceding June. It was quite obvious that he didn’t have high hopes for the team. Also, every school tends to glorify its football team. Well, the football team, in all its arrogance, had a dreadful year. So one of the most memorable days in Dave’s high school career was when the soccer team accepted the County Championship Award in front of the entire school. At a banquet dinner shortly thereafter, Dave’s artistic ability in drawing a caricature of the coach was the hit of the night.
During his middle school and high school years his skateboarding skills translated into a love of snowboarding. He was really good! At the time, skiers scoffed at snowboarders so it was especially gratifying to Dave when during a family and friends trip to Gore Mountain, a few of his skier friends attempted snowboarding. As they limped back to the house, they had gained an instant respect for the sport.
Scholastically, Dave was an average student. He had to be prodded to study and do homework. He felt life had more to offer than school. He decided at the middle school that he wanted to join the military after he graduated from high school. He wanted to travel and experience life in different places.
I still insisted that he take college courses so he’d be ready if he changed his mind. He was not happy with that decision. He didn’t change his mind so sometimes I feel I made him struggle unnecessarily with college courses.
Dave did not thrive at structured learning. But once he enlisted in the Air Force, he hungered for knowledge. He took some college courses. His Christmas list consisted of college course books. I was amazed at his interest in such varied subjects. It was never about the “piece of paper.” He has taken numerous online courses—just for the knowledge. He was respected by everyone who knew him for his constant striving for knowledge.
When Dave offered an opinion, it was backed by comprehensive knowledge on the subject.
Religion, politics, the medical community. You name it, he was a wealth of information. But he wasn’t a know-it-all. He didn’t hesitate to ask advice of those he respected, especially his brother and uncle. Whether it be the benefits of having a greenhouse or the contract he was contemplating.
And when he was taught the new skills of rock-climbing and orienteering, he was an attentive learner who took his instructions very seriously. His undertakings were the result of much contemplation and research.
I always said that Dave had “itchy feet.” He was always looking to his next adventure. After the Air Force where he lived in Texas, Nebraska, Saudi, Greenland, and Greece, he hoped to continue to accept short-term contracts around the world, return home to his family and friends for awhile, and head off to his next adventure.
He had already gone to the Bahamas for one year and after some family time, headed off to the Marshall Islands for another year. A short time before his death, he had applied for a contract in Antarctica. That was Dave—on the go, home for a transfusion of his family’s love, and off again.
We had hoped the Survival Course would satisfy his itchy feet and he’d stay home for while longer. Also, he truly loved living in upstate NY with Rob so we hoped for the possibility of him settling down there.
Family was of utmost importance to Dave. He showed this in so many ways.
Dave and Rob had the family crest tattooed on their backs. They designed it with a little help from Grandpa. Dave followed up with the tattoo of Celtic Ruins signifying the qualities and hopes of his family; Protector, Health, Nurturer, and Strength. The tattoo added just weeks before his death were vines across his chest and shoulders, which were to connect to the family crest. The vines symbolized “Grow wild according to thy nature,” a quote from Nietzsche.
He had told me his final tattoo was to be a dandelion on his wrist. The flower would be on the top of his wrist with the vines going around his wrist. This tattoo was going to be in my honor. You see, when Dave was a little boy, he often gave me a bouquet of dandelions!
Even though he traveled, he stayed in close contact with constant phone calls and e-mails to all of us – friends and family alike. While he was in Saudi, we sent tapes back and forth.
He would call for every holiday and special event no matter where he was stationed. His Christmas boxes would arrive weeks in advance, but he wouldn’t open them until Christmas morning with me on the phone. We would plan a family “mind lock” for the New Year. We would figure out what time it would be in his time zone and when it was New Year and visa versa. We would then wish each other a Happy New Year in real time wherever we were. We may have been separated by thousands of miles, but we were always connected with love. He had taped a Chinese fortune cookie message to a family picture that said, “You are deeply attached to your family and home.”
There is nothing he wouldn’t do for our well-being and safety. He spent over $3,500 to build a greenhouse on Rob’s property and wished to one day take out a loan for over $30,000 to heat and power Rob’s house with solar power. With the world as crazy as it is, he wanted to know there was a place his family could share that would be somewhat self-sufficient.
In an e-mail to his aunt, he wrote:
…you might be interested to learn of my little project planned for this spring. I’m buying a dome greenhouse that runs off of solar power and setting it up in an open clearing on Rob’s property. Mmmm, fresh organic veggies…year-round! Say goodbye to pesticides and enzyme depletion, and say hello to a self-sustained food/herb source for our family. I’m bubbling with excitement! [BTW, I was hoping that your Green-Thumbs might consider reviewing my current strategy and offer some suggestions before we get started?]
He always chose his gifts to make our lives easier, safer, or healthier. My parents would get all types of massagers for all their aches and pains. I receive some pretty comical contraptions for the relief of headaches. We would all smile at his ingenuity. His last Christmas gifts to me were bear spray and a handheld device that served as a flashlight, alarm, and shocking device. You see, I had told him that while I was visiting Rob’s house and was walking my dog, a bear walked into our path. Plus, earlier in the day two dogs had chased us. So, naturally, he searched online for the solution.
I smile every time I walk my dog when I’m at Rob’s. Believe me when I say that the dogs don’t bother me anymore. The bear? Well, thankfully I haven’t seen him close-up recently.
Dave had a wonderful sense of humor. He always made us laugh.
His storytelling was hysterical. With his superior vocabulary and ability to clearly paint a picture with words, everyone who knew Dave knew him to be so much fun. He clearly had a love of life and found humor in almost any situation. So many of the stories that have been shared with me by his friends are hysterical and SO Dave!
Here are a couple:
A fellow airman wrote this on the blog of Dave’s website:
First I’d like to give a story about Dave’s good nature. Dave was involved in something during our shift at Offutt one night and had to write up a report on it (I don’t remember what exactly it was). There were 6 of us in the CSC (Central Security Control) room, The controller, our Flight Chief, Dave, myself, and our respective patrol leaders. Dave hands our Flight Chief his report and after reading it, he takes off his glasses, looks at Dave and say’s “You can’t put “Due to my cat-like reflexes” in your report.” The whole room erupted in laughter. That was just like Dave, lifting everybody’s spirit.”
While Dave was stationed in Greece, he sent these Christmas greetings to his Grandpa. (Keep in mind that at the time – and probably even now – a lot of the Greek people did not want Americans in their country):
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and most importantly Happy Chanukah. I tell ya, this year just ain’t gonna be the same without ol’ St. Nick. You see last year some disgruntled greeks nailed his sleigh with a Molotov Cocktail. Apparently the attack was due to his American affiliation…so he doesn’t come here anymore. Just let him know that I’ll be seeing him next year.
Here I am making fun of the questionable rapport we have here with our greek buddies without telling you of any of the fun and spirited traditions the greeks have involved us in such as…Commie Chris. He’s the knavish lil’ devil who much like Santa, drops off packages in the middle of the night…however, his tick! Or their festive deviation from our “Christmas Caroling”. The only difference is that instead of small groups of people singing pleasant songs of goodwill they prefer large angry mobs of people chanting about the removal of the American pig-dogs while setting the surrounding fields on fire. So as you can see we really are very much alike.
Take care Gramp, enjoy the holidays, and I can’t wait to see you in June.
He also was a comical troublemaker. The last night we all had dinner together, he grabbed a wad of cold, cooked spaghetti and threw it at his sister. From the angle where he threw it, she thought her brother, Rob, was her attacker so she went into the revenge mode and started wrestling with Rob. Of course, Dave was in the background hysterically laughing at the scene he had created.
There were just so many funny stories. He was such fun to be around.
Dave treasured his friends more than anyone I know.
We all make promises to keep in touch, but most of us rarely keep those promises. Not Dave! He flew from Greece to California for the wedding of one of his best friends. Most of us would politely say we couldn’t attend. Not Dave!
The testament to how Dave treated his friends was the fact that hundred of friends came to his funeral – some flying in from California and ALL sharing stories with us that he always kept in touch. He was always there for everyone and he always cared.
He was different things to different people because he always knew exactly what made each of them “tick.” He listened and was a great friend to all.
Dave was a caring and compassionate person. There are so many wonderful, heartwarming stories.
Rob was going through some really difficult times so Dave wanted to give him a lift by buying two unique additions to his fish tank; an eel and a lobster. He called Rob and told him that the car his buddies, Nick and Gary, were driving broke down and needed a ride upstate near where Rob lived. Rob was stuck in traffic in NYC and didn’t know how long it would take. Dave told him not to worry; they’d wait. Dave waited two hours in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts. When Rob arrived and saw Dave alone in his car, he said, “What’s up? Where’s Nick and Gary?” Dave picked up the bag and said, “Meet Nick and Gary!” Sadly, Gary died, but we still smile when we see Nick, the lobster, happily living in Rob’s tank.
Dave’s aunt had been on a regimen of radiation treatments. When Dave heard when her last treatment was scheduled, he made a note of it so he could call her and congratulate her on finishing the treatment. It meant the world to her.
Dave’s first job was working for a few hours at a town fair. With his meager pay, he bought me an African violet plant. He kept this tradition with each new job he had.
Dave didn’t hesitate to help a friend in need. While going through Dave’s papers, we found that over the years Dave had loaned thousands of dollars to friends. It didn’t matter if it was monetary or just offering a helping hand when needed, Dave was there for everyone.
Although I can’t guarantee that Dave wrote this, I feel pretty sure he did. He scribbled this thought in the middle of his “to do” memo pad. There are cross-offs and word changes that make me think he authored this.
In any event, whether he did or didn’t compose it, Dave felt these thoughts were important enough to write them down. I wanted to share them with you as I close this brief summary of his life:
We find it way too easy to accept our limitations, and ignore our aspirations. The narrow focus of the future renders one blind to the present.”
Dave died on the hot summer day of July 17, 2006.
Although our family misses Dave more than words can express, we are so thankful that Dave lived his life the way he wanted – in the “present” and with the gusto he was born with !
How many of us can say that?
Dave’s Mom, Pat