What gave me some of the best experiences as Senator Abdnor’s driver was the unexpected. One day after classes and getting back to Capitol Hill, I was informed tonight’s itinerary was the Senator was having dinner at Vice President Bush’s House with other Republican Senators. The issue or agenda I don’t recall if I ever knew it.
On the way, the Senator asked if I had eaten anything and I told him no thinking he’d either bring me a box of the dinner or have one ran out to me. Jim Abdnor didn’t like being hungry so he always made sure those around him were well-fed.
When we got to the Naval Observatory, Senator Abdnor told me to come along and not sit in the car. Not knowing what to expect I did as I was told but was sheepish as I walked by the other Senator’s cars as their drivers sat in their car. Drivers just don’t go to meetings with other Senators and certainly not with the Vice President.
When we got in the door, Senator Abdnor grabbed one of the waiters and told him I needed something to eat. This guy was good as he knew I wasn’t supposed to go into the dining room with the others yet not wanting to offend an obvious VIP (Senator Abdnor) so I was escorted into what I assume was the family eating area, a small functional kitchen with a kitchen table and four chairs. The waiter asked me to sit down, left the room and soon came with a salad.
Shortly after I received the main meal, a “side door” which I presume went into the family living quarters opened and in entered the Vice President’s wife, Barbara Bush. As surprised as I was to see her, she was even more surprised to see me as she was dressed not quite in lounge wear but certainly not what a person of her background would wear to meet a stranger or entertain guests.
After finding out who I was and how I got there, she said she was getting a snack, poured herself a glass of milk and got a couple of cookies from the pantry and proceeded to sit down with me. What struck me about the entire exchange is she not once made me feel uncomfortable for being there, made it seem natural she’d eat her snack with me, and, most importantly, she acted like my grandmother would have treated a stranger in her kitchen, with kindness and hospitality. Two other times I saw her up close. While we didn’t ever talk again, she acknowledged me both times with a big smile and a wink.
There has been much said about Mrs. Bush’s steely resolve and capacity to chop off heads of anyone threatening her family, her humor, and her public interest in literacy. What I hoped to confirm what I think we all suspected- she was also a kind and gentle grandmother.
May the soul of Barbara Bush, by the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace.
16 thoughts on ““It’s so much more friendly with two.” ― Winnie-the-Pooh”
Someone died and Troy managed to make the story about him, name dropping all along the way.
I don’t know why you do this every obituary I write. For you to read my story and even think I got this treatment because I thought it was about me is nuts. I was a driver, I was dressed in khaki’s with a blue blazer (my required attire as driver) which showed I was of modest means, and I was eating.
Especially Jim Abdnor but also George Mickelson gave me opportunities to meet and see people in places and settings most don’t get to see. There is absolutely nothing I did to deserve any of these opportunities as they were earned by Jim Abdnor and George Mickelson. At the same time, I observed things I consider gifts and am not going to let you try to shame me into not sharing them because I think they give insight into people who most only read about. Think about what is between the lines in the story I wrote:
Jim Abdnor was a person who was concerned about the people who worked for him. Unlike most nights when I drove him where I might be able to sneak into a reception and get some food or the night would end early enough to eat, Jim knew this was going to be a long night and wanted me to be fed. That tells you about him.
I am pretty sure I wasn’t the first person who came into the Vice President’s house who wasn’t supposed to be there. Think about it. This waiter knew enough of what the Bush’s would expect to take me to their own living quarters. I’m sure there was a room they could park me in or they could have just told me to go back outside. But, the Bush’s must have made it clear for all visitors to be treated as special guests. And, when in the kitchen and told the guest was hungry, they made sure I got the same meal as the others in the house. No peanut butter and jelly. This tells you something about the Bush’s that might not be evident.
Finally, Mrs. Bush could have been gracious, introduced herself, got her snack and returned from which she came. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t her desire to visit with a college boy. But, she did otherwise. She ate with me as I ate and when we both had finished she stayed a while longer. This tells you something about Mrs. Bush now at a time the nation is mourning her death and celebrating her life.
Whenever a “celebrity” dies, people enjoy sharing stories about how that person had an effect on their lives. There are always those the jump in and tell those people to not make the story about themselves, but instead about the recently deceased.
Its always been my opinion that how people remember you in regards to how you interacted with them is your true legacy, good or bad. Its the same thing with artists and musicians. When a famous musician passes, you will inevitably read from those that admired and looked up to them about how their music got them through a tough spot in their life, or lifted them up and raised their spirits. That is a much more important story for me to read than “gave x to charity” or “won x awards.” Troy, your story is perfect, because though it was about you, you were not the subject.
Thanks for posting, Troy. I always appreciate and enjoy when you share stories and tidbits of your personal interactions with dignitaries when they are currently in the news. It’s especially great when you can provide insight into a different side of them than most of us ever get to see.
RIP Mrs. Bush
I read this story and thought… ‘incredible story’. Then I read the first comment and thought… ‘you got to be kidding me’. A snarky comment not deserved — but it seems as if that’s the new world we’re living in.
Thanks for sharing Troy. I enjoyed this personal story.
what a great story. thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing, Troy.
Enjoyed this. Ignore the trolls.
Good story. At a death it’s the perfect time to share a personal connection to a person or a memory. Ignore the heckler.
I appreciate the history Troy. I also appreciate your perspective and willingness to give us articles worth reading.
You should write a book entitled, “A Senator’s Driver.”
What a great story, thanks for sharing
Marrying well (or not) can make or break a man. George had a lot of advantages growing up as a senator’s son, but if he hadn’t married Barbara would he have been President? I doubt it.
Thank you…I cried when I heard she died. I then read this and had to smile as This is how I would expect her to act.
Nice story. Thanks for posting it
I always referred to Barbara Bush as America’s Grandma. She so reminded me of one of my grandmothers. Your story echos one I heard oh Rush yesterday in which an ordinary guy was allowed by her to have his picture taken with her while holding a beer. Rush reminded us that the true measure of good people is how they treat people who cannot help them. RIP, Barbara Bush.
Late to the party here, but thanks for the memories Troy. I lived in DC during this time and knew some members of their secret service delegation. They reported both Bush’s were a class act, and had stories of sandwiches delivered to them at the first ladies suggestion.
Comments are closed.