Thursday, April 19, 2018

Remembering Barbara Bush

Rest in Peace dear Barbara.  You inspired so many by your caring, compassion, charm and wit.  We will miss you in so many, countless ways, and be forever grateful for all you did for our wonderful country.

Barbara Bush was my friend.  Barbara Bush and I were co-conspirators!

During the second Reagan/Bush Inaugural, in 1985, the 50th Presidential Inaugural, Mike Deaver and Ron Walker were co-Chairmen.  The plan was that the Deaver's would accompany the Reagans to all the Inaugural Balls and Ron and I would accompany the Bushes.   When Mike Deaver got sick and couldn't participate, Ron and I were asked if we wanted to go with the Reagan's.  We said, no, we'd stick with Vice President and Mrs. Bush.

It was a merry whirl, as you can imagine.  The four of us would arrive at one of the 12 Inaugural  Ball sites, be introduced, dance a few moments, change partners, acknowledge the crowd, and move on.  The only time the President and Vice President were at the same location, was at the Kennedy Center.  As the Vice Presidential party stepped to the back of the stage and the President and Mrs. Reagan stepped into the spotlight, our vantage point behind them provided us with quite a unique view.  The bright lights in front of them made Mrs. Reagan's white gown, completely see-through from behind.  She appeared to be completely and shockingly stark naked.    I heard Mrs. Bush gasp at the same time I did.  A startling sight to be sure.

Later in the car, we agreed that we probably should keep that secret to ourselves and we have done that.  But all these years later, I think the statute of limitations has expired.  And it sure was a memorable moment.  Just think, if I'd had a cell phone in my evening bag way back then, do you think it would have been as easy to keep this secret?

The Walkers and Bush friendship goes way back to the first days of the Nixon administration.  We saw them often over the years, both socially and officially.  Socially meant exchanging warm hugs and happy smiles.  Officially meant we'd try to be completely, well, you know, "official."

Mrs. Bush holds the record for riding the National Park Service "cherry picker" to the top of the National Christmas tree on the mall to put the star at the very top of the tree.  I went often to witness the event and cheer her amazing skill at what must have been a possible stomach turning ride.  It's been said so often that she was courageous and brave.  Yes she was.

She scolded me just once.  It was in New Orleans at the Republican National Convention when George Herbert Walker Bush announced that Dan Quayle would be his running mate.  Our cherished pal, Ron Jackson, long-time commander of the White House Mess, was dying of lung cancer and couldn't travel to New Orleans.  I wanted to take a movie to show him when I got back to Washington.  Being a short person, I couldn't find a good vantage point to film the big moment.  I climbed up on a ship's mast, next to where the Quayles would be arriving on another boat.  With movie camera in hand, I waited for the show to begin.  Later Mrs. Bush told me, "George and I were beside ourselves when we saw you climbing up on that boat.  You shouldn't have done that."  She was right of course, but Ron Jackson loved seeing all the hoopla going on, and it made me feel good to share a little bit of the fun with him.

It's also been said that Barbara Bush was one of a kind.  She definitively was that, so let's all strive to be more like her.  We can start by wearing pearls to church on Sunday.  A small token of our love, affection and gratitude for a woman worth emulating. Oh, how she will be missed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Remembering Billy Graham

With great sadness, we have learned of the death of Dr. Billy Graham at the age of 99.

The Reverend Billy Graham was a National Treasure. Ron and I are proud to have called him our friend. His wise counsel to President's of the United States is impossible to measure.

Ron spent a great deal of time with Billy Graham over the years. They became acquainted because of their common bond, President Richard Nixon. As chief advance man for President Nixon, and founder of the first White House advance office, Reverend Graham asked Ron to come and talk to his crusade staff. That was in the 1970's and he wanted them to learn the finer points of raising a crowd and organizing large events. We were honored to spend time with him. He sat in our box during two events that Ron chaired, the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas and the 1985 Presidential Inaugural.

Fast forward to the funeral service for the 37th President at the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, California. Ron had been asked, by the President, to arrange the service and Billy Graham had been asked to deliver the eulogy. Ron and I were staying at the Fullerton Marriott near the Library. The night before the service, the phone rang late in the evening and T.W. Wilson, a long-time aide to Dr. Graham, called and asked Ron come to Dr. Graham's room. Ron found the famous preacher, who suffered from phlebitis, propped up in bed, with his legs resting on several pillows. The two men talked about the service that was to be held the next day, and Ron was asked to pray with Dr. Graham about the event itself and the words that would be said. Billy Graham asked the Lord to guide them during the ceremony.

The day of the Funeral was a very unusual one for Southern California. A storm had moved in, rain was falling and lightening and thunder filled the normally sunny skies. Ron and Dr. Graham walked out of the library to await the arrival of the hearse accompanied by the Nixon daughters and their families. As the motorcade approached, a loud clap of thunder roared overhead. Dr. Graham said to Ron, "That is the Lord, welcoming the President to his house of many mansions." Ron replied, "Dr. Graham, sir, I think it was the Old Man, saying I am here to offer my help."

Dr. Graham wrote to Ron on July 28, 2009:

"Dear Ron, How wonderful to get a letter from you. I would like to congratulate you on being named president of the Richard Nixon Foundation. I had no better friend through the years than Richard Nixon. There were so many different sides to his life, and he was frequently misunderstood. I remember the long talks I had with him before, during, and after his presidency. Ron, I will never forget what a faithful friend you were to the president, and how highly he thought of you.
With warmest affection, (signed)"

One cannot help but wonder where those wise men, like Dr. Billy Graham, have gone.  Our country needs them, "Now more than ever," as the saying goes.  He will be missed.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Matter of Balance . . . . Managing Concerns about Falls

Greetings Blogger Buddies.  I want to tell you about my newest adventure.

I recently became certified as a Balance Coach and I am very excited to tell you about it.

You know the deal.  As we age, we are not as agile as we used to be.  Falling is a very real and serious concern.You hear about it all the time. Statistics show that folks who fall and break a hip are usually dead within a year.  Our pal Dewey Clower died from complications from a fall. My church friend, Ethel, fell and broke both her wrists.  Ron had some serious falls last year and I wanted to try and figure out how to help him.

The National Council on Aging offers classes on how to prevent falls.  I signed up here in Tucson with our Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) to take the class.  I learned so much and decided I really wanted to share my new knowledge, so I signed up for the Coaching Class.   We will be holding classes at my church, Oro Valley United Church of Christ during the month of March.

The foundation for A Matter of Balance started in the State of Maine.  Today, many other states offer the course.  Google it if you are interested in learning more.  In an effort to get you interested, here are a couple of tips:

TIP ONE, WRIST TWIRLS:  When you fall, you usually try and block your fall with your wrists.  Start strengthening them so in a perfect world they won't break like Ethel's did.    Twirl them in circles.  Clockwise and counter clock wise.  Wave at folks when you are out and about.  Do it a lot.  Some might view you as a little balmy, but most will just think you are a very friendly person.

TIP TWO, ANKLE TWIRLS: Our ankles hold us up.  Duh.  We want to keep them up to the job.  Circle them around.  Do it in both directions.  It's super easy to do.  You can do it from your favorite chair while reading.  I find that when my feet are cold, ankle twirls warm them up.  It's a really nice,  cuzzy feeling.

TIP THREE, SIT TO STAND:  The Matter of Balance folks say that if you can do this, it will keep you out of a nursing home. Doctors ask people to do this before referring them to an assisted living facility. (I think it is just a polite way of determining if they can get on and off a toilet without help.)  Sit in a chair that has no arms.  Stand up and sit down.  Try to master ten "sit to stands" every time you finish a meal. If you have to start small, I promise you will improve!

This is just a quick overview of a Matter of Balance.  There are many more useful tips and exercises. Staying active is key.  People are afraid of falling, so they stay home and become couch potatoes.  And get frailer.  That's not good.  We don't want to do that.  You don't have to move fast, but just move.  Let me know if you want more info.  Good luck and stay strong.