Today I spent most of my morning and early afternoon watching TV. No, I didn't watch game shows and I didn't watch movies. I watched the funeral of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. I started watching at 11 AM and I could not walk away, I could not turn it off. Speaker after speaker spoke of this man's humor, his joy for life, and his genuine goodness. The man who was often unappreciated in life was now being honored in death.
President Bush died at age 94 but he could have died at a much earlier age. We all know about his being shot down as a young aviator but his son George mentioned that he had almost died as a teenager and he believed that it was these two incidents that created in his father an urgency to live life to its fullest. He knew great love with his wife Barbara for 73 years and he also faced great loss when their 3 year old daughter Robin died of leukemia. He experienced the victory of being elected President of the United States and he endured not being chosen for a second term. He witnessed his oldest child and namesake achieving the title of President and yes, being re-elected for a second term. I'm sure that George W.'s political success was very satisfying to this former President but it is the image of the father reaching out to take the hand of his son at the 9-1-1 memorial service that truly defines their relationship. He was demonstrating his understanding and compassion as only someone who personally knew the immense burden of leading our country could fully comprehend but he was first of all a father offering comfort to his son!
Several speakers during today's service spoke about President Bush's achievements as a pulbic servant but he was also remembered as a loyal friend and a loving father. His funeral was a religious service filled with scripture, beautiful music and motivational thoughts. Viewers were challenged to honor President Bush by obeying the two greatest commandments Bush himself had chosen to live by. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and "Love thy neighbour as thyself"; near the end of the service The Apostle's Creed was read and Ronan Tynan shared a moving rendition of The Lord's Prayer. So many memorable moments in this beautiful tribute punctuated with voices cracking with emotion and tears that frequently flowed. I was especially touched when Michael W. Smith sang a song that President Bush requested. "And friends are friends forever If the Lord's the Lord of them". For after all, "a lifetime's not too long to live as friends."
Have I mentioned that I couldn't quit watching this service? This man who challenged all of us to become volunteers and servants, to become "a thousand points of light" was today revealed as perhaps being the brightest point of all! One news commentator remarked that today, December 5, 2018, was a secular holiday with spiritual overtones. Another reporter suggested that this was perhaps a message from the Bush family to encourage a change in our political climate and this reporter questioned if the message would be remembered in the days and weeks ahead.
In his only inauguration speech as President of the United States. George H.W. Bush spoke these words. "In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend; a loving parent; a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it."
Today's goodbye was truly a celebration of a life well-lived! George H.W. Bush was apparently a wonderful husband, loving father and an all-around good human being. He was a man who believed in service and he encouraged others to do the same. Well done, good and faithful servant!