Former First Lady Barbara Bush speaks at Loma Linda
Former First Lady Barbara Bush speaks to those in attendance at dedication ceremonies for the Pettis congressional papers.
During dedication ceremonies for the Pettis papers, former First Lady Barbara Bush made the following remarks. Also included in this issue of TODAY are remarks by the Hon. Shirley Pettis-Roberson, as well as details about the dedication of the congressional papers of her husband, Jerry Pettis, and herself.
(She motions to the audience to stop clapping). A very good audience—you obey perfectly! I want to thank Shirley very much for that kind introduction. I should say “Congresswoman Pettis,” but old friends are allowed to use first names. It is wonderful to see Shirley today and thank you to all her friends and family.
I want to thank all of you for a very warm welcome as well. A special thanks goes to Dr. Lyn Behrens, president of Loma Linda University, as well as the wonderful students and faculty who are making me feel very, very welcome today. I’m also glad to see Congressman Jerry Lewis and Pete McCloskey. I’m not sure Pete that you and George always got along, but he loves you as a friend! Finally, a special thanks is in order for Myrna Hanna for all her hard work to make today a reality.
You know, I feel quite honored to be your speaker as Congresswoman Pettis and I have been friends for many, many years. In thinking about the amount of time that has past since we first met reminds me of a story of two elderly ladies who had been friends for many decades. Over the years they shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activity had been playing Bridge several times a week. One day they were playing cards when one looked over at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me. I know we have been friends for a long time, but I just can’t remember your name. I have thought for a long, long time and I just can’t remember it. Please tell me what your name is.” Her friend just glared at her, for at least three minutes, and then she finally said, “How soon do you need to know?” NOT so funny when you are 82, let me tell you!
You must be wondering what this has to do with the call to leadership. Absolutely nothing at all! But there is proof that I’m happy to be here today with my beautiful friend, Shirley. See, I do remember her name!
Now let’s get down to business. I often joke that my successful life has been the result of marrying well. To be honest, it’s not a joke, but indeed, the truth. My fulfilling life, full of wonderful friends, truly is because I made the most important decision of my life and that was to marry George Bush. And having just watched that amazing video on the Pettises makes me wonder why on earth you invited me at all!
You do understand don’t you that I married one president, I gave birth to another and I was never a president. One night I absolutely couldn’t sleep and found myself thinking about what I have learned in life, sometimes the hard way, and what I would really like my children to know from these experiences. So while I may not have served in congress myself or been a CEO of a large company, I would like to share with you some of the things I have learned which I feel define a successful life.
Remember, that includes 82 years of life, 62 years of marriage to George Bush, 6 children, 17 grandchildren, 5 wars, 4 dress sizes, 2 governors, 5 parachute jumps, 1 aircraft carrier, and now 2 presidents. So now, maybe some of this will make sense to you.
Try to find the good in people and not the bad. Someone once asked the Red Cross founder, Clara Barton, if she remembered a wrong a friend had done to her years before. Clara said very firmly, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.” Or as George put it, “Isn’t it better to make a friend than an enemy?” And they were both right.
Do not buy what you cannot afford. Don’t try to live up to your neighbors and be sure to pay people back.
What matters most is how you treat others and not what you have done. Value your friends and remember that loyalty is a two-way street. My George is the best example in the world of that particular truth.
Love your children. George and I have loved ours more than life itself. Remember what Robert Fulton wrote, “Don’t worry that your children never listen, worry that they are always watching.”
My father gave me much the same advice about parenting before I was married. He said there were three very important things in life that you should give your children. “Give them the best education in the world, set a good example, and give them all the love that you have.”
Enjoy life as much as you possibly can. You really only have two choices—you can like it or you can dislike it. I choose to like it just as Shirley has done.
No matter what our problems, we can always find people who are worse off than we are. Help them and forget self.
Above all, seek God. There is absolutely NO downside. God will come to you if you only ask.
Now seeing as we have many students and professors here today, the true definition of keeping your feet on the ground in the successes of life can be best illustrated by the following story. One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and to drive home a point he used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of high-powered over-achievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He filled up a one gallon, wide mouth Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he took one dozen fist-sized rocks and placed them one by one in the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and he could fit in no more rocks he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said “yes.” He said, “Really?”
He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in, shook the jar, causing the pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked them once more, “Is this jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not.” one of the students said.
He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces that were left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No.” the class shouted and he said, “Good.”
Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was full to the brim. Then the expert in time management looked at the class and asked, “What’s the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is if you try really hard you can always fit more things in to it.”
“No.” said the speaker. “That is not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is this—If you don’t put the big rocks in first you will never get them in at all.”
What are the big rocks in your life? Your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching or mentoring others, doing things that you love, your health, your significant other?
Remember to put these big rocks in first or you will never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff, the gravel, the sand, you will fill your life with little worries that don’t really matter. You will never have the real quality time that you need to spend on the big stuff.
So, tonight or in the morning when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself, “What are the big rocks in my life?” Then put those in your jar first. Big rocks will bring you greater joy and happiness than any sand or pebbles.
Thank you very, very much.