I’ve always admired Barbara Bush. Like millions of others I was saddened to hear about her declining health and then recent death. Many television tributes and well deserved accolades have been verbalized in recent days. Her beautiful funeral service and all that was said from their Houston Episcopal Church was a tribute to one of America’s finest ladies.
I had the opportunity to have my picture taken with the First Lady many years ago. She was speaking at a banquet and my assignment was to do an opening prayer for the occasion. Being on the program afforded me the opportunity to sit close to her while she would later speak. We were meeting under a large tent and it was a breezy day. The flag was occasionally blowing into her face and so I took hold of the end of it and held it during her speech. During the course of her talk she would begin to drive home a point about something bad the democrats were doing or some other issue in which she had strong feelings. To accentuate her point she would preface or add a bit of declarative underscore by using the word damn. Nobody in the political crowd seemed to be bothered by the First Lady’s rhetoric and of course I had heard the word before as well. During her speech she used the word three times. After each time she said damn she would stop her speech, pause and look straight at me and say, “Sorry Reverend” and then slowly she would get back into her speech. She did that three times. I think I was her icebreaker or a bit of a punch line that day and it was okay as I smiled with her. She was very kind to me and gracious and very well received by all who were there that day.
A lot has been said in admiration about Barbara Bush. I particularly admired that she told her son Jeb a couple of years ago that there had been enough Bushes in the White House. Of course she loved and supported her son but many of us agreed with her candor.
Jeb Bush did a fine job speaking at his mother’s funeral. He gave a beautiful eulogy that would make any parent proud. His question to her about her readiness to face death was touching and is something too many feel uncomfortable talking about. We want someone else to do that for us. Jeb asked her if she was ready to die. Her response was lovely. “I don’t want to leave your father but I do love Jesus and believe I am going to a beautiful place.”
Barbara Bush lived an incredible life. She and her family are a huge part of American history. Ninety two years is a long time to live but passes so quickly. After this, there is eternity as she and many of us believe.
I didn’t vote for Jeb but greatly respect that he loved his mother so much that he talked with her about the nitty gritty things of life – death and the afterlife. With all of their money, history, fame and adoring fans the bottom line at the end of the road came down to a very simple but profound conversation about death and Jesus. As we all near the end of our lives, we would all be so fortunate to have someone who cares enough about us to be personal, loving and to truly give that much of a damn about us.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.