To the Editor:
I have a story about First Lady Barbara Bush.
In January 1989, I was a newly elected congressman. My wife, Jo, and our daughter, Kristen, were in Washington with me. A couple weeks earlier, we had received an invitation from President and Mrs. Bush for a freshmen reception at the White House. It was spouses only. The reception was from 7 to 9 p.m. and Jo and Kristen’s flight home was at 10, leaving no time to go back to our apartment to pick up Kristen. We had to take her with us. The White House staff allowed her to stay downstairs and watch television in a small TV room.
About an hour into the reception, we were having a conversation with Mrs. Bush. She asked about our family. We mentioned that Kristen was downstairs, and we had to make a quick trip to the airport as soon as the reception ended. She immediately called a staff person over and told him to go downstairs and bring Kristen up to meet the President. We were stunned! It was totally against protocol. As soon as Kris entered the room, Mrs. Bush went straight to her, took her by the hand, and introduced her to the President. Kris was only 13 and this simple act of kindness by the First Lady will stay with her forever. The three of them talked for a few minutes then Mrs. Bush called us over for a family picture with the President. The picture is one of our most prized possessions.
Tuesday, when her passing was announced, we were sad. The entire time she was First Lady of our country, she was performing one act of grace after another — reading to children, serving food in a soup kitchen for the homeless, and visiting HIV clinics and shelters for the poor. People in Washington loved her and Jo and I loved her and President Bush too.
President Bush was one of the most qualified people to ever hold the Presidency and while I differed with him on many policy choices, I respected him. He and Mrs. Bush were good, decent people and I never felt that America was at risk under his leadership. We will miss him when he is gone, just as we already miss her.