Michael and Diane Busch’s love is told in a pair of keepsakes
Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series called “Enduring Legacies” about your recently deceased neighbors and friends. They weren’t famous. However, in their otherwise ordinary life, they were extraordinary.
NORTHERN TOWNSHIP – Perfect death may not exist.
Michael Busch was on top of the world when he left him. The 61-year-old AEP engineer spent his last hours doing one of the things he loved the most, hiking with his wife, Diane. They were in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. It was part of what went on for months to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
It happened on September 5th, near the end of their nine mile journey.
“He just laid down and died,” Diane said.
His heart gave out.
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A sheriff who came to the scene told him he wanted to go like this someday. The area was so peaceful and serene. Others at home in County Stark also suggested to Diane that this was an ideal ending.
But what about those who remain?
“A horrible ending for me,” said Diane
Maybe one day she will see it as a sort of end of a philosophical storybook. But she lost the love of her life – and it hurts. It was she who found herself instantly alone in these mountains. It was she who frantically searched for help, in an isolated area without cell phone service.
“I can’t believe the Mike and Diane story is over,” she said.
Still, it won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
The husband and wife who did it all together made this year, the year of their ruby wedding anniversary, very special. By early summer, they had returned to Oglebay Resort, the site of their wedding reception.
More important now are a pair of keepsakes they had created to commemorate their 40th wedding anniversary. Diane wrote a poem called “A Life of Love” for Michael. He made her a photo book, detailing all the stages of their relationship, which began when they met in college in West Virginia.
The couple were nice like that.
Almost disgusting, thought their son, Nate.
“You and me baby – we’re one, we’re” one. “From the first day we met, inseparable and fun! ‘
It all started in a school group when Mike and Diane realized they were sharing the same birthday on May 20 when she was a year younger. Then came dating and marriage; the birth of three children; the move to Canton Nord; shared devotion to Jesus and to the church; boating, hiking, motorhome travel and motorcycle rides; its Snapple museum basement; and the five grandchildren.
“A false sense of security that it will be forever,” Diane explained.
But the death of Michael’s sister four years ago made them realize it wasn’t forever. This is one of the reasons they embraced this 40th year, which was to include more stops after hiking the Ruby Mountains.
Using old journals and Diane’s shared memories, Michael’s photo book chronicles their journey. From the first time they held hands on May 16, 1975, then married exactly six years later, until the 40th anniversary celebration at the Oglebay Mansion Museum on June 1 of this year.
In between, there are times such as the long day of fucking in a church van; newlyweds’ apartment in Morgantown during Michael’s final year at the University of West Virginia; the births of their children Sarita, Nate and Rachel; baptisms, Jesus Days and life at the First Baptist Church in Wheeling; the house they bought in Canton Nord; their new home at RiverTree Christian Church, where they were mentors before marriage; and vacations, holidays and birthdays.
All of this is forever commemorated in this photo book.
Diana’s poem to her husband is just as sincere; it starts with this:
Here we are now … 40 years later!
One of the best relationships there has ever been!
You and me baby – we are one, we are “one”
From the first day we met, inseparable and fun!
We make a good team – an example are we
Of a three-stranded rope – you, Jesus and me;
She details many of the same moments that appear in the photo book. She professes her love, admiration and respect for Michael and their marriage, before concluding with this stanza:
As we look to our future, there will be laughter and tears;
If we live to be 100, we could be married 40 years longer!
This thought makes me smile, this thought gives me chills,
So many adventures; so many thrills.
I will always cherish you, our marriage will prosper,
I will love you forever every day that we are alive.
Hike in the Ruby Mountains
Michael Busch lived cleanly. No alcohol or even caffeine. But he had inherited a disease that increased his bad cholesterol levels.
Although he underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2003, it never slowed him down. He has since passed his medical examinations without a problem.
The couple had often hiked together. But the trip in early September was their first to the high Ruby Mountains. Often they wore headphones, listening to audiobooks. Not on this late afternoon trip, however.
The sun was starting to set.
They had a mile left.
They both admired the beauty of their surroundings.
“I’m just looking at the creations of God,” Michael told Diane. For some reason, an old church hymn, “When We All Get To Heaven” was stuck in her head and she kept singing it to herself during the hike.
Suddenly Michael lay down.
He didn’t answer her.
Diane has tried mouth-to-mouth and CPR. She dialed 9-1-1. There was no service. Michael didn’t have a pulse. She ran for help. She found campers, including a nurse. They walked over to Michael. Diane got into her vehicle. She drove until her cell phone picked up a signal.
It was too late.
Michel was gone.
“We talked a lot on the hike,” Diane recalls, now wondering if there was a reason behind the topics they discussed. “We talked about things like perseverance and the scriptures.”
And of course there was this church hymn: