True Greatness

07-12-2018 16:12

 

From the original Facebook Post:

“Three days before Lauren was born I went to the Texas A&M gym uncomfortable and many days overdue. I walked in and saw a man wearing dress pants and tennis shoes flanked by two men in suits…It was George Bush Sr! His first words to me were, “When’s the baby due?!”
He then proceeded to explain to me how Barbara encouraged all 5 of their babies to hurry up. The security guards looked away embarrassed…
We cycled next to each other on the exercise bikes and he talked to me the whole time. He asked about Albrey Arrington’s research and I told him about the Rio Cinaruco. He knew right where it was and all about peacock bass. He knew all about everything…including anecdotes about random people who popped up on the tv screens above the bike.
He was engaging, interested, and when my 20 minutes ran out on the bike I just kept riding…
After Lauren was born I sent him a letter and picture of her. This is the response we received. The signature is fading so we now keep it in a dark place. Notice the date…
Thankful to this day for this incredible encounter.
A life well lived….an incredibly great man.”

Letter

We have all been watching the eulogies and memories pour in of George H. W. Bush. Last Saturday I got out our family’s special memory of this man and put the story on Facebook. Normally I am relatively private on this platform and have my privacy settings on, well, private. However, when I thought of our story, and how it impacted me, my finger hovered over the key and then I “bravely” hit “public.” I watched it nervously for a few hours waiting for the inevitable snide comments and the internet-hate-machine to kick on but it never did. Instead it was as if the letter was a seed that planted a beautiful steady outgrowth of shares and kind comments that I have read and enjoyed and reread over these past 5 days.
On Monday I texted my husband:

Text

By Thursday evening there were over 500 shares and enough likes to have a “K” after the number and my teenage daughters were teasing me about being “viral” and not obeying my own internet preaching. (You know, a parent’s standard “One day you won’t get a job because of what you put on the internet when you were 13…”) But it was the comments that surprised me the most. Each comment has embellished the memory of that special moment nearly 18 years ago. Here are some of my favorites and most of them are from total strangers:

Meagan Gilbert: The amount of stories like this that have surfaced in the last few days is truly eye-opening to how incredible of a man that he was!

Incredible. Meagan, I thought the same thing as I watched the eulogies on TV. So many people talked about his personal letters. My chance encounter and consequent blessing was not isolated…it appears this was his mode of operation. Many have called him the “people’s president” and I can see why.

Joni Funk Bledsoe: What a wonderful man…no celebrity, no pretense just a wonderful man. We should all strive to be like him…Godspeed President Bush

Zero pretense. Yes, we all should strive to be like him. Because kindness isn’t meaningful only when its source is somebody famous. Kindness can change the trajectory of our day.
If you know me, you know we are struggling with my youngest daughter’s chronic illness. A couple months ago we thought that Chiari surgery was our best option. We had just met with a neurosurgeon and I had run into Trader Joes while my daughter was in therapy. My mind was in a whirl and I was convinced the check-out lady thought I was an idiot. Instead she said to me, “Ma’am, are you OK?”

I told her that actually I wasn’t, that we had found out my daughter might need brain surgery. She asked me my daughter’s favorite color and then went over and picked up three beautiful bunches of hydrangeas and put them in my cart free of charge.
“These are for your daughter,” she said.

Hydrangeas

I’ve been back to that Trader Joes and tried to find her and thank her and to update her on my daughter but I have never seen her again. She changed the trajectory of my day and she didn’t have to be a former president to do so.

Karen Colletti Kibodeaux: He was such incredibly awesome person!!! America was so blessed by this man, in his various roles of service, but mostly by his humble, loving and kind example of what is means to be truly alive

Humility. This has surfaced over and over again in the comments. He had an approachable humility. I think it has become part of the American Dream to become famous….to catch that break that brings us to the proverbial Next Level. But why did President George H. W. Bush resonate with so many of us? Was it only because he was president? No, it was his humility. He had every reason to be proud, egotistical, have a chip on his shoulder over losing out on a second term, be upset about the backlash of his own son’s tumultuous election etc. etc. But instead, as I found out myself, he was completely approachable. Dick Cheney spoke on TV of a gathering where president Bush went up to Mr. Cheney’s 7-year-old granddaughter and said, “I’m the oldest person in the room. You’re the youngest. Let’s talk.” He stated how that impacted his 7-year-old granddaughter. Well, I was the largest pregnant woman in that college gym and he cycled next to me and talked. When I waddled out of the Rec Center that day my shoulders were straighter and my head was held higher.

Greg Cardenas: What a great story. If a former President has the time and attention to devote to such small yet meaningful gestures, there is just no reason we all can’t. Good reminder of that truth.

Time. We are Americans. We rush. We give ourselves just enough time – or a little less for those eternal optimists – to get from one thing to the next. We don’t have time to stop and engage. But the former President of the United States gave me his time and attention and it affected me profoundly. Last night my husband said to me that he had read through the incredible comments and this was the one that stood out to him, too. Why? Because it is something we can all do…we don’t have to be president to devote time to meaningful gestures.

Maria Shelton Dameron: That’s the best part! You did it with a pure heart. And so did he.

Lack of guile. I remember as we cycled we spoke of the contested 2000 presidential election but I unfortunately do not remember what he said. I do, however, remember sadness in his voice and something about “that’s just how people are….” but there was zero animosity. He had every reason to say something negative but he did not.

I have had people from that time ask me how they never knew about this story. Well, I arrived home all excited about my phenomenal encounter and sent an email telling a few family and friends. Many thought it was cool but others did not. They were disappointed in the outcome of the election and their “sour grapes over the election” as one replier put it made me cautious about telling anyone else. Yet, here was George H.W. Bush, a man who had just lived through watching his son being dragged through the political mud, and he had zero animosity.

Heather Fritzel: can we have more of this in the world, please?

Well this week, for those who commented and shared this, we did! We had more of “this” and it has been wonderful. It shows me that there are many people living in these United States who have the power to spread kindness and humanity in the same vein that George HW Bush did while he was alive. There are, indeed, many strangers out there who embody the ideals of our 41st president…and “this” is wonderful.

Deanna Christine: Class and dignity….always in style!!

Vickey Stroman Foster: What a treasure. A kind, thoughtful, gentle man.

Felix Santiago:  What an absolutely beautiful moment in time.

Daniela Fuentes: It’s the little things…

 

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