Like many people in the United States, I was glued to the television much of this week as our nation honored former President George Herbert Walker Bush following his death on 30 November 2018. I’ve been a fan of ’41’ since he served as Vice President under Ronald Reagan, and since we live in the greater Houston area, I’ve learned a lot more about him and his life post-presidency. George and Barbara Bush made Houston their home, and they were frequently in the news here, most often being honored for their generosity, noted for their wisdom, or featured being guests at athletic events or other galas.
George and Barbara were married for 73 years and were sweethearts for 77. George was the only boy Barbara ever kissed, as they met when she was 16 and he was 17, at a Christmas party just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was love at first sight, and from all accounts, it was a strong, steadfast, abiding love that only increased with time.
At Barbara Bush’s funeral in April of this year, their son Jeb said, “Our family has had a front-row seat for the most amazing love story.” Theirs truly was a partnership, evidenced to me by George’s declarations in a letter he gave Barbara on their 49th anniversary: “I was very happy on that day in 1945, but I’m even happier today. You have given me joy that few men know. … I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”
How remarkable is that? I can tell you, it has made me think twice about taking my wonderful husband for granted! A marriage is what you make it, after all. Watching clips of George and Barbara together, seeing interviews they gave, and hearing their children, grandchildren, and friends talk about them makes me feel like they had such a strong mutual admiration and adoration for each other, grounded in their faith, that it allowed them to face and overcome any obstacle together. They were a team, and a formidable one.
Other characteristics of President Bush that have become obvious this week are that, in addition to being a devoted husband and father, he was a man of great faith, humble, generous, hard-working, funny, adventurous, a good and loyal friend, strong-principled, gentle, and strong. He was a visionary who valued service to others above most anything, save his family and his faith. Truly, he was one of the greatest of the Greatest Generation, and our country was lucky to have him as our president. He will be missed.
One of the best things about all of the eulogies and reminiscences about President Bush was hearing some of his quotes. These are my favorites:
Thank you for your service, your legacy, your wisdom, your humor, and your example. Godspeed and God bless, President Bush.