G.W. Eulogizes Bush Sr.: 'His Was the Brightest of a Thousand Points of Light'
WASHINGTON -- In an emotional farewell at the National Cathedral, the 43rd president of the United States broke down as he remembered "a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter could have," and urged funeral attendees to smile knowing that President George H.W. Bush is hugging his late daughter Robin "and holding mom's hand again."
"In his 90s, he took great delight when his closest pal, James A. Baker, smuggled a bottle of Grey Goose vodka into his hospital room. Apparently, it paired well with the steak Baker had delivered from Morton's," President George W. Bush recalled as he eulogized his father.
Baker later broke down in tears as Rev. Russell Levenson, Jr., the Bush family's pastor, described Baker rubbing Bush Sr.'s feet to comfort his old friend in his final moments.
"To his very last days, dad's life was instructive. As he aged, he taught us how to grow with dignity, humor, and kindness and when the good Lord finally called how to meet him with courage and with the joy of the promise of what lies ahead," George W. Bush said. "...Dad could relate to people from all walks of life. He was an empathetic man. He valued character over pedigree and he was no cynic. He looked for the good in each person and he usually found it. Dad taught us that public service is noble and necessary, that one can serve with integrity and hold true to the important values like faith and family."
"He strongly believed that it was important to give back to the community and country in which one lived. He recognized that serving others enriched the giver's soul. To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light," Bush added. "In victory he shared credit, when he lost, he shouldered the blame. He accepted that failure is a part of living a full life but taught us never to be defined by failure. He showed us how setbacks can strengthen."
The Bush family occupied one front row at the cathedral, while on the other side of the aisle the row was filled with the current and former presidents and their spouses.
While greeting them before the funeral service, Bush slipped his pal Michelle Obama a piece of candy from his pocket -- a nod to their exchange as seat-mates during Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) funeral.
"Last Friday when I was told he had minutes to live I called him," Bush said. "The guy answered the phone said he -- I think he can hear you but he hadn't said anything for most of the day. I said dad, I love you and you've been a wonderful father. And the last words he would ever say on Earth were I love you, too."