Dear George (can I call you George?),
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your willingness to serve these past eight years. It's not been an easy job, not one I'd want for sure. And you were constantly on the receiving end of negativism and criticism, being the butt of jokes on late night television and having your own "home away from home" bombarded with folks when a certain "lady" decided to make your life a living hell. Yet, you bore it all with good grace and carried on doing what you were elected to do, lead the country.
On 9/11, I was an American living overseas. I watched from my small living room in the UK outside London as my beloved country was attacked. It was a sucker punch to me and, with all my children and family in the USA at the time, a most helpless feeling. I actually IRONED that day to have some outlet for my nervous energy - and I NEVER iron. But pillowcases, sheets and shirts got one, if not two, passes with the iron that day as I watched the news. Your ability to calm and inspire confidence were sorely needed and appreciated that day and in the days to follow. And I've been relieved that so far there have been no further attacks on domestic soil while on your watch. Air travel is harder to do - especially international travel - but that has been a small price to pay in the whole scheme of things.
You have been vilified by so many - often unfairly in my opinion. Everyone seems to think they have all the answers but until we've walked a mile in your shoes, we cannot possibly know what it's like to be called on by the entire world to solve so many problems. Living in the Caribbean as an oil company wife, I had my "unfair share" of negativity, receiving hate mail, vilified by other parents at our children's school for taking a stand for right, feeling like every move was being watched and dissected. It's not a fun feeling and one I'm loathe to ever repeat. And the accusations thrown your way dwarf any discomfort I have ever been exposed to. But you have taken it all with grace and "kept the course". I may not agree with all your decisions but I have respect for the way in which you carried out your duties as Commander in Chief.
And I have the utmost respect for that lovely partner in your life, Laura. What an wonderful example of wife and mother she has been to me. And being from Texas, I took great delight in her (and your) Texas heritage and mannerisms. I often tease my husband that one of my jobs is to make him look good, and your wife seems to be of the same mind. She has always been the epitome of grace and friendliness. She is "approachable" and I feel that, if you lived next door, she'd be willing to share a cup of coffee at the breakfast table and talk about her children. Her willingness to take on jobs she never aspired to, and with such grace and enthusiasm, inspired me to be a better wife and mother. She is, in truth, a Great Lady.
Your daughter even attended UT Austin the same years my son and daughter-in-law did. As I sat at their respective graduation ceremonies, I was saddened to learn that you and Laura had decided to have a private celebration and NOT attend your daughter's ceremonies so as to not take away from the joy of other parents due to the crowds your presence would inevitably bring. That was a sacrifice as it is a given that seeing your child walk and get their university diploma is a right of parental passage. How many other such things did you deny yourself and your family for OUR greater good?
When your daughter was married this past year, I was delighted that you were able to keep it a private family affair. The photos we were privileged to see only proved once again how proud you are of your family and the love within that family.
While folks were finger pointing right and left, I wonder if they considered the sacrifices you and your family made to give the eight years of service to our country? The lack of privacy. The constant scrutiny. The hurt your family inevitably must feel when yet another attack on your integrity or leadership is publicized. The inevitable no-win situation you consistently found yourself in when making hard decisions. And being President, I'm sure almost all decisions were hard decisions.
In an age in our country where evoking the name of a sovereign Lord brings cries of derision from an increasingly intolerant left (who, ironically, is constantly calling FOR "tolerance"), your public admission of dependence on a faith based life was nothing short of courageous.
As I watched the inauguration this morning, you and your family stood with heads held high and with confidence. I watched in pride as you completed your years in office and fought back a tear or two as I watched you all fly away to Andrews AFB. I'm thinking about the days ahead as you all move to a new house and transition to the next phase in your life. Moving as often as we did with an oil company, I can relate to the "knowing you're going", the saying goodbye to the now familiar and the mixed feelings of missing the former while excited about the future. I can only imagine that is what is going through your mind now as you relinquish this office and go forth towards "the rest of your life".
So I want to thank you. And wish you well in your new home. Texas is the richer for getting you back (yup, I'm a Texan too) and who knows, perhaps there will be "Bush sightings" in the DFW when I'm up there where we often vacation. To say you've had a wild ride is an understatement and I hope that you can slow down and savor the things you've missed, for our sake, these past eight years.
Welcome home to Texas. We've missed you. And thank you again.