With the passing of President George H.W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush, I can’t help but reflect on working for them at Walker’s Point when I was in high school.

My first summer, I imagined I should be seen and not heard. Not so. Early on, I was weeding the garden when Mrs. Bush walked by to ask how it was going. She saw the rather invasive grass and kneeled down in the dirt to weed with me. She asked about school and where I wanted to go to college. She listened, and it was clear she cared.

Another day, I was in the shed where we kept our tools. President Bush walked in to spool his fishing reels and asked if I wanted to learn how to do it. He showed me the different rods and taught me how to spool a reel. He was gracious and patient.

Be it trimming the hedges or cleaning the boat, corners were not to be cut. This wasn’t because of fear of reprimand. Rather, the only way to do a job is to do it well and take pride in it.

Nearing the end of my first summer, I had a dilemma. I needed 10 mornings off to work on the first issue of the school newspaper. This type of absence required approval directly from Mrs. Bush. Naturally, I was nervous to make the request. When I did so, the reaction from Mrs. Bush was quick and kind: “Well, of course school comes first.” And that was that.

Decency, equality, spontaneity, priorities and kindness. It says something about character when the only witness to such qualities is a teenage kid from Kennebunk weeding the grass. I always will remember and value these lessons from Walker’s Point, and the people who shared them with me.

Philip Hussey


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