Monday, October 05, 2009

We had dinner with President Bush last week.

There were about 1000 other people there. We didn't get to shake his hand, or make eye contact, or even get a view of his face while he dined. But, we did see his salt and pepper head of hair glide into the ballroom where they served dinner.

We borrowed Bubba's smaller camera, and Honey dutifully carried it in his coat pocket all night, but since flash photography as well as video photography were strictly prohibited, I couldn't take one single picture.

It was still a wonderful evening.

He was the guest of honor at a fundraiser for Honey's Favorite Christian University. The food was surprisingly tasty. The university food service catered the meal, and considering their specialties include hot dogs and steak fingers, we didn't have high expectations for dinner. But it was good!

Thank goodness we're in Texas, because the really well-cooked steak and rich mashed potatoes they served were totally appropriate.

The highlight of the evening was, of course, the keynote given by President Bush. As we made our way into the auditorium to take our seats, I found myself hoping that he would be as grounded and principled as I'd always thought he was. I also really, really hoped that he would make up a word or two during his address.

After about 5 minutes, the entire audience had relaxed and was totally engaged as he shared stories about his years in office and life after the presidency. He's really a great story teller, and funny. We got to see a side of him that wasn't formal and scripted and on the record. In fact, even though we're not on a first name basis, I feel totally comfortable referring to him as Bush 43 from now on.

He spent an hour or so illustrating the morals, principles, and beliefs that guided him during his terms. And I found myself saying, "He's not perfect, but he was such a good leader for our country during those 8 tumultuous years."

In fact, about half way through, I leaned over to Honey and whispered, "I miss him."

To the delight of the audience, he did make up a word . . . explorationists. We all laughed when he said it, and for a minute he looked as if he didn't know why we were laughing. Then he said, "What? You've never heard of explorationists?"

He said that over the years he was in office, he shook a lot of hands. What he remembered was that most people didn't show up to use their once in a lifetime chance to greet the President to push some cause or project or make requests. Overwhelmingly, people came out and fought the crowds to look him in the eye and say, "We're praying for you."

He expressed his appreciation for the prayers and said that he and Laura know that those prayers sustained them throughout his years in office. It was powerful to hear a President say, thank you for the prayers, they worked, they got us through, we could feel them every day.

At the end of the speech, he sat in a more casual setting with the president of Honey's FCU, and answered a few questions. The university choir sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You". And then, it was over . . . during the standing ovation, he was escorted out of the building. And as we applauded, we all had the biggest grins on our faces.

And if he writes a book, I'm totally going to buy it.


kimberly t. bowling said...

Great post! Great man. I miss him, too. And I will totally stand in line with you to get his book...

My MIL was able to meet him, shake hands, even chat for a moment in the oval office, a few years back. My daughter used the photo of them for her 1st grade Social Studies poster....and won!! :)

Hope your October has began well...can you even believe it's October?

Shelly said...

How neat! I miss him too. I bet he is a good story teller. I would love to visit with Laura too. As a fellow mom, teacher, and lover of children's books, I think she would be great to visit with.

The Binkley Family said...

How cool! Wish I could have been there. What a great time!

The Binkley Family said...

I forgot to mention that when I was in high school and he was still the governor, Laura presented me with an how many degrees of separation is that? LOL

Larissa said...

Great post, that was a great way to remember him! I wasn't there, but the consensus does say he was funny.

Misty said...

Although he isn't perfect, he's no more messed up than any other man that's had the position. The things he faced... I am not the biggest Bush supporter, but this post honestly brought tears to my eyes.

valerie in TX said...

So well said. We wanted so much to go to the dinner, but by the time we even heard about it, it was already sold out! I miss him too. A lot. No he isn't perfect. No man is. But I miss his integrity and the grace and honor with which he led our country. What a great memory for your family!

creative gal said...

Wow! Sounds cool!