Saturday, April 23, 2005
The time I met and talked with Barbara Bush - bathing suit to bathing suit
Corrected as to dimensions of Detroit Renaissance Center, November 30, 2005
I've had some curious encounters in my lifetime -- some very unexpected. I guess its probably no secret that apart from SOME of the life issues of the current president, I'm not his greatest fan. I was disturbed by his lack of sensitivity on some capital cases while he was governor of Texas. (However, I do agree with him on abortion and euthanasia issues!) I frankly thought his brother, Jeb, was the brighter of the two and liked his hands-on in the Florida disasters last year. I was most disturbed when George Bush said that he wasn't worried about executing innocent people -- that this had never happened in Texas! Well, it happened about everywhere else, and the DNA innocence projects revealed that there were approximately 13 people sitting on death row in Illinois who were completely innocent. For that reason, Governor Ryan of that state suspended the death penalty until reliable controls were put in place. I am always alarmed when somebody shoots from the hip and I've suspected, perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly, that this was the case with our present national administration.
Furthermore, I haven't been exactly thrilled about its position on Iraq. The "Shock and Awe" campaign was a horrific one to set and I would certainly hate to have this global precedent turned on the USA.
However, I must confess that I do like the President's mother who also happens to be the wife of a former president and the mother of Florida's Jeb Bush. I had the unexpected honor of meeting her once under very unusual circumstances. Here's what happened.
The year was 1980. My downtown Detroit law office was in the Renaissance Center. It was a four tower, 71 story massive complex attached to the Westin Hotel, with a rotating restaurant at the top. The complex featured theatres, shops, indoor hanging gardens, a health club, and a heated swimming pool. We lived downtown and most of my law practice as a young lawyer was downtown. It was then a good time to be in Detroit.
My clients didn't appreciate the facility as much as I enjoyed it. It was and remains difficult to navigate on foot -- they perceived it as some type of a big moat to cross to reach me. But at this time of my life which was stressful for reasons I am about to explain, it was good for me and my family.
My husband Barry suffered a traumatic accident in the fall of 1979. Retrieving his briefcase from the trunk of his Monte Carlo Chevrolet vehicle, the car behind his car was struck by new driver. She had just bought the car from a junk dealer. She had only the minimal Michigan insurance of $20,000 limits. This is, needless to say, is nothing for a life-changing disaster of this magnitude. It sent Barry's car into the car ahead and Barry was trapped in between. One leg was immediately severed at the scene. He was in surgery 7 hours that day and they tried to save the other leg. Nevertheless, it had to be removed 11 days later because of massive life threatening infection. He was now a double above-the-knee amputee. Between hospitalization and rehabilitation institute therapy, Barry was medically institutionalized for six months. In early April, 1980, the doctors suggested that as a reacclimation to medical discharge, that Barry take a day at home. We, of course, needed to move from our former downtown apartment to a building with an elevator. That hadn't happened yet. I did have my health club membership in the Renaissance Center, however, with my own permanent assigned locker. We had family privileges. Beverages and sandwiches were served. When we were done exercising, we could go to my office for Barry to see it (I had located there from another downtown office after the accident) and then take in a family movie before returning Barry to the Rehab Center.
We arrived at the health club. I was handed my usual towel and went into the ladies' locker room. The club was relatively empty. There was a very pretty girl inside who was badly sunburned. I looked at her and said, "oohh, where did you get that burn?" The girl answered, "in Houston." I said, "you need to get something like aloe vera on it immediately." I was recalling a bad case of sun poisoning I once brought home from the Bahamas a few years earlier. I went to my locker. At that point, a bathing suited woman came to me and asked if I could please show her how to set the sauna. I set the sauna. I finished my own change of clothing and headed for the sauna myself.
As I entered the sauna, the woman said, "Hello." I responded, "hello." "Where are you from?", she asked. "Right here, where are you from?", I responded. "Houston," was her answer. "Oh, are you here attending the electronic manufacturers convention," I asked, thinking of Texas Instruments and the notice of events for the day posted in the hotel lobby. "No, I'm here campaigning," she said. "I'm Barbara Bush and my husband George Bush is running for President. This is our daughter, Dorothy," she said, referring to the pretty sunburned blonde next to her.
We talked as if we had known each other all our lives. She said she had noticed Barry when she was coming in. She told me she had a sauna in her Houston home and missed not having one in Washington. She was, quite honestly, very refreshing by the standards of the many, many political people I had known in my adult life. After I broke to go swimming, I was sought out by the journalist Susan King who had since came to the pool and was likewise enjoying the tepid waters. Susan told me that Barbara Bush told her she had met a woman lawyer who had impressed her. Barbara Bush had impressed me.
I was not a bit surprised to hear a few years later that after George Bush lost his re-election to the presidency in 1992, that after they returned to Houston, she discharged her personal Secret Service agent, bought a Buick, and went wherever she personally wanted to go in Houston. She struck me as that type of person.
At any rate, this is not a heavy blog today. It is just something interesting that happened to me with a person I accidentally met who was very nice to me at a personally trying time in my own life. I still remember her fondly for it -- I just sort of wish it had been her other son who was president. Oh well!
That's it for today. My back stories, many of which in my biased mind have value, are available to you. Just type on archives which for a few more days are only "April."
Have a great day!
CONSTANCE E. CUMBEY
April 23, 2005
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