The Barbara Bush I knew

The Barbara Bush I knew

More than 1,500 mourners filled the pews at Houston’s St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on Saturday to celebrate the life of Barbara Bush as the former first lady was laid to rest. Like so many whose lives were shaped by her fiery spirit or her work in literacy, her passing was an end cap to a chance encounter some 30 years ago that guided in no small part the trajectory of my life. I first met Mrs. Bush in 1987 while working on her husband’s campaign for president, which had dispatched her to Georgia. I quickly understood she wasn’t the typical campaign spouse— she put in as much shoe leather as a paid canvasser and her ears would turn flush from pressing the receiver to it so long in phone banks— but what was most remarkable was how authentic and thoughtful she was. Looking back now, it’s no surprise that Mrs. Bush was able to parlay her handwritten Christmas cards into one of the most robust and impressive fundraising operations of the last century. She was the wife of the Vice President of the United States while I was an inexperienced campaign aide still in college. No matter that I was in no position to write a big check or open politically important doors, she was gracious and uncommonly considerate in every interaction. It was through the Bush family, and by extension my mentor the late U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell, that I learned the value of loyalty– which Mrs. Bush demonstrated so keenly as the family enforcer. (After musing that perhaps the country had enough of the Bushes, she nonetheless...