He's 93, in a wheelchair, and makes only rare public appearances, but former President George H.W. Bush and his electric scooter-driving 92-year-old bride of 72 years, Barbara Bush, still makes time for ailing veterans.
Recently at their Kennebunkport, Maine, summer home, for example, they met with veterans and their pets featured in the new book Vets and Pets: Wounded Warriors and the Animals that Help Them Heal.
Co-author Dava Guerin said the vets came with dogs, a potbelly pig and two injured screech owls. "One of the wounded screech owls had a slight accident and it landed on 41's pant leg," she told us. "He just laughed, and that was that."
Guerin has known the Bushes for years and described the former first couple as vibrant and chatty. The former president even insisted on greeting the veterans at the end of his 100-yard-long driveway at Walker's Point.
"He's very engaged," Guerin said. And Barbara Bush, she added, "looked great, too, and still is as funny and witty as ever. You could see how happy she was to meet everyone and have a chance to hear their stories."
She gave the former president, who oversaw the first Gulf War -- Desert Shield and Desert Storm -- a rundown of who was coming before they arrived.
Barbara and I loved meeting a few of the patriots and service animals featured in a wonderful new book, "Vets and Pets". God bless them all. pic.twitter.com/CzXhYtK1XA— George Bush (@GeorgeHWBush) September 27, 2017
"I had a chance to spend some private time with 41 before the others arrived. He looked wonderful, and was his usual kind and funny self. I read him the card I brought for him, and you could see he was touched. He still has that twinkle in his eye and that smile. I gave him a rundown of who was coming, their injuries, and the animals who would be there. He was clearly very moved. In fact, he insisted in coming down the long driveway from their house in his wheelchair to meet all the warriors and their families before Mrs. Bush arrived. The wounded warriors were beyond thrilled. They couldn't believe that a former president would do that for them. To say this was life-changing for them would be an understatement," said Guerin.
She added, "No one could believe that they got so much positive attention and got to meet a president and first lady. Most of them, wrote letters to 41 and Mrs. Bush, and they were heartwarming. Some said they will never be depressed again after being so inspired, and another told 41 that meeting him and Mrs. Bush was the best experience he has ever had, and he will use that experience to live a life of purpose and optimism."
Guerin also provided this letter that Bush wrote to one of his visitors:
I am asking my friend Dava to send you this note. She is our middle person.
I really loved your letter. You need to know you are the one who inspires me.
"Trials and tribulations" get the best of everybody. I love your wonderful spirit and desire to do great things.
I know that you will. And remember sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest difference. I always loved the quote from Mother Theresa: "Everybody wants to save the world but no one wants to do the dishes."
Every little thing you do to make life better for someone is a great thing.
Thanks for your letter and thanks for coming to visit. I am sorry Tessa couldn't make it.
All the best,
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org