The year was 1989, my husband and I were new to Nashville and President George H.W. Bush was scheduled for an appearance here. My mother–a proud resident of Odessa, the sister city of Midland, Texas, the former home of our 41st and 43rd presidents–asked me during a phone call if I was planing to go see him.
“I wouldn’t walk across the street to see that man,” I replied.
My mother was taken aback. She knew I wasn’t a Republican (she was, though she claimed to be an Independent) but she had reared my brother and I to be respectful of the presidency. Once a president was elected, he was, in every way, my mother’s president and she treated him as such. She was disappointed in me.
“He is our president,” she said. “Well he’s not mine,” I shot back. “I didn’t vote for him.”
“That’s too bad that you feel that way,” I remember her saying. And that was that.
Now, almost thirty years later, I wish I hadn’t said that. More importantly, I wish I hadn’t thought that–and I’m sorry. I’m sorry for disrespecting the youngest U.S. Navy pilot of WWII, a hero who was shot down over the Pacific and rescued by a submarine–one of our’s, thank God–though his crew perished. I’m sorry for disrespecting an elegant, gentlemanly president, who rose through the ranks of politics and reached across the isle, yes, because it was expedient and because it was the right thing to do for the betterment of the country he led. And I’m sorry for disrespecting my mother’s example.
My mother’s gone now and, of course, so is President George H.W. Bush. As for me, I’m still not a Republican. But I am a lot older now and, thank the good Lord, I’m wiser. If I had it to do all over again I still don’t think I would go and see President H.W. Bush, but I would be a lot more gracious about not going and about my explanation as to why.
God’s speed President Bush…And much respect.