Writ­ing kind notes as Bush did may make us good and de­cent again

The Beaufort Gazette - - Front Page - BY DAVID LAUD­ERDALE dlaud­[email protected]­land­packet.com

This is a note to self: Write more notes. Ac­tu­ally, I should say: Write notes, any notes, please.

Write to your mother, for cry­ing out loud.

It could make the world a kinder, gen­tler place, when that’s pre­cisely what we need. Ex­cla­ma­tion point.

That’s what stands out to me as the world stops this week to say good­bye to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush. The 41st pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica, who died Nov. 30, was a re­lent­less notewriter and those notes re­vealed char­ac­ter.

Who knew that sim­ply be­ing a good and de­cent per­son could make one stand out as re­mark­able?

And that’s the point. Writ­ing sim­ple notes — short notes — to thank or com­pli­ment or en­cour­age some­one could make us good and de­cent peo­ple again.

I don’t write notes be­cause I’m too busy. I don’t write notes be­cause I’ve spent all day writ­ing and I don’t have any­thing left to say.

But Ge­orge H.W. Bush was a busy guy and he wrote notes every day. He wrote by hand so many notes that a bunch of them were com­piled into a mem­oir, “All The Best.”

And on a lot of his days, he would have sifted through the whole world’s prob­lems and all the ego- ma­ni­acs in Wash­ing­ton, and could eas­ily have had noth­ing left to say.

Be­sides, what good would notes do from a syn­tax-chal­lenged man born with a sil­ver foot in his mouth, as Texas gov­er­nor Ann Richards said of him?

Now we know that the notes did a lot of good.

They are trea­sures, es­pe­cially the one he left in the Oval Of­fice for his suc­ces­sor, Bill Clin­ton, who had just dealt Bush his bit­ter­est pro­fes­sional dis­ap­point­ment. But be­cause we have the note, we know how to act in a time like that.

“You will be our presi-

GE­ORGE H.W. BUSH WAS A BUSY GUY AND HE WROTE NOTES EVERY DAY.

dent when you read this note,” Bush closes it, un­der­ling “our.”

“I wish you well. I wish your fam­ily well.

“Your suc­cess now is our

coun­try’s suc­cess. I am root­ing hard for you. “Good luck, “Ge­orge.”

Facebook, email and Twit­ter now help us touch each other with notes. But it’s not the same. I used to get hand­writ­ten notes from Mark San­ford, our gov­er­nor and then con­gress­man. I couldn’t read a word he said, but it was the thought that counted.

I used to get notes from the late Tim Doughtie of Hilton Head Is­land. He typed out short bursts of en­cour­age­ment. I thought it was only me, but when he passed away it seemed that ev­ery­one got notes like that from Tim.

So my note to self is this: Get some note cards. Get them small, so you don’t have to say much. And write.

PAUL HOSEFROS The New York Times

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush at work on his State of the Union ad­dress in the Oval Of­fice of the White House in Wash­ing­ton on Jan. 25, 1991. In his hun­dreds of let­ters, the 41st pres­i­dent ex­pressed a quiet and of­ten poignant elo­quence.

PAUL HOSEFROS The New York Times

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush with pen in hand in the Oval Of­fice in 1992.

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