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.

1 comment:

Lorna Collins - said...

Such a lovely tribute. I remember the convention when George was nominated. You and Ron sat with the Bushes in the box. What a special lady, and how very blessed you were to have known her as a friend.