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WASHINGTON — George P. Bush, the oldest of President George H.W. Bush’s grandchildren, recalled how his “Gampy” made time for his family even while preparing for the presidency during a Houston funeral service Thursday.
The younger Bush recalled that when his grandfather was preparing to run for president in 1988, he issued a policy book, which opened with a letter to his grandson. “It was addressed to me and recounted some of our recent experiences together in Maine,” Bush recalled.
The elder Bush had recounted when the two had created a “big rock boat.” Near the end of the summer when the moon was full, the tides were high, there was that special day it almost seemed like the boat was real,” George H.W. Bush had written to his namesake.
“In those few words, my grandfather said more about his life than I could ever tell you this morning. Here’s a man gearing up for the role of a lifetime, and yet his mind went back to his family,” Bush said. “This is a book about policy issues and yet he still found time to write about an imaginary boat that he built with his grandson.”
Bush went on to describe good times at the Bush family’s Kennebunkport compound.
His grandfather would get up early and get his coffee.
“When the coast was clear all the grandkids would try our best to snag a spot on the bed and nestle up between him and Ganny while they read the paper,” Bush said.
He talked of the “intense horseshoe match-ups” between the Bushes, their Secret Service agents “of any willing head of state.” George H.W. Bush, George P. Bush said, would encourage trash talk. “Like ‘power outage’ if your horseshoe was short, or Woodrow Wilson if you’re long and your shoe hit the wooden backstop.”
“His typical spread included barbeque, tacos, tamales, pork rinds with hot sauce, with a healthy compliment of Blue Bell ice cream and Klondike bars,” Bush went on.
“Always the competitor, each night Gampy challenged all the grandkids to the coveted ‘first to sleep’ award,” Bush added.
Throughout their lives, the former president wrote letters to his grandkids.
In his later years, the 41st president transitioned to email, asking his grandkids to come to Maine more often.
The younger Bush also talked of his grandfather’s love of country and of God, remembering how his grandfather was able to find peace, even on the deck of the submarine that saved him at age 20, when he bailed out of his plane in World War II.
“He said the sky was clear, the stars were brilliant, like a blizzard of fireflies in the night,” Bush recalled. “There was a calm inner peace. Halfway around the world in a war zone, an inner peace. God’s therapy.”
Bush called it an “honor of a lifetime to share his name,” remarking that “after 94 years, the heavy hand of time has claimed the life of my Gamps.”
“Until we meet again. Maybe out on that rock boat we built together,” Bush said.
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