If you are totally out of touch with recent news, you may not know that former President George H.W. Bush, also known as “Bush 41” to distinguish himself from his son, another George Bush who was president, passed away at the age of 94.
I will admit that Bush 41 wasn’t my favorite president. In fact, before the nightmare otherwise known as the 2016 presidential election, the hardest choice I had to make was the 1992 election between Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. I went into the voting booth not sure what I was going to do. Bush had not done as well as I would’ve liked, but Clinton troubled me and there was no way I was voting for Ross Perot. In the end, I voted for Bush, not that it helped him win.
One of the things I kept hearing this week about the man from people on both sides of the political spectrum was what a gentleman he was. According to almost everyone, he was courteous and humble, a gracious man who not only knew how to win but how to lose. A civil man, a quality that seems to be in short supply these days.
And he got along with people who disagreed with him. I know, in these days when people are blaring on social media, “if you support so-and-so, unfriend me now!,” that this is a novel concept. But Bush 41 managed to forge an unlikely alliance with his rival, Bill Clinton, to do a lot of good. Would that we could be like that.
And yes, I know there were people out there who couldn’t think of anything nice to say about him when he was alive who praised him after his death. This has rubbed some conservatives the wrong way. Personally, I put it down to the old adage of not speaking ill of the dead. That being said, I hope that if people have nice things to say about me, they don’t wait until I’m dead to say them.
One thing I admire about Bush is the fact that he and his wife Barbara stayed together for 73 years. That’s a long time to live with another human being.
Especially when you’re in the spotlight. In this day and age of short marriages and too many divorces, their example is refreshing and one I’d like to emulate.
I didn’t watch the whole funeral. I did, however, watch Bush 41’s son, George W. Bush, give a eulogy for his father. I felt a tremendous amount of empathy for the man as he got through it, breaking down only at the end.
Look, losing one parent is tough. I know – my mom died in early in 2000, and even now, almost 19 years after the fact, grief can hit. But George W. Bush and his siblings suffered the unthinkable agony of losing both parents inside of a year. That, I don’t want to imagine. It’s a rough time for them, and I hope that people get that and treat them kindly.
You and I will more than likely never be president. But we could do a lot worse than be remembered as Bush 41 was remembered. Kindness, civility, getting along with others – those are goals worth reaching. And if you see someone acting those out, don’t wait until they’re dead to tell them they’re doing good. Tell them now. And be that person yourself.