Things have been so busy over the past week that I haven’t had the opportunity to properly say something about Barbara Bush.
I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Bush when she toured NASA’s Johnson Space Center with her husband and India Prime Minister Rajiv Gahndi in June 1985. It was just a brief handshake and eye contact; security was extremely tight because Gandhi was under constant death threats. (His mother was assassinated in 1984; he would be killed by a suicide bomber in 1991.)
Thirty-three years later, what I remember is that her handshake was firm, as you would expect. I remember telling someone it was firmer than her husband’s. And I appreciated that she looked me in the eyes.
Today, reading Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column while waiting for some work to be done on our soon-to-close house, I saw this anecdote that brought me back to that day:
When their son, George W. Bush, was visiting his parents during his presidency, he put his feet up on a coffee table at their home, and his mom sternly told him: “George, get your feet off my table!” George Bush the elder said: “The guy is president of the United States! Give him a break!” She said, “No! He knows better!”
Finally, surfing pages on Facebook, I saw the image below on a page devoted to Jason Isbell, one of my favorite songwriters. Isbell won a Grammy this year for “If We Were Vampires,” one of the most devastatingly beautiful songs about love and mortality I’ve ever heard. The person who posted the photo noted that it was truly a “Vampires” moment, and I could not agree more. (Photo from the Associated Press.)
RIP, Mrs. Bush, and deepest sympathies to your husband and family. The tributes over the past week have served as a reminder that we were once kinder and gentler toward people we disagreed with, and I appreciate the chance to pay respects to a woman who had both balls and class.