This is a letter that George H. W. Bush wrote to his mother several years after his and Barbara’s only daughter had died from leukemia at the age of 3 ½. After Georges mother died in 1992 it was given to Barbara.
I have jotted down some words about a subject dear to your heart and mine. Last night I was out, and on my way home late, I said to myself, “You could well have gone to the cemetery in Greenwich tonight”. This thought struck me out of the blue, but I felt no real sense of negligence. The part I like is to think of Robin as though she was a part, a living part, of our vital and energetic and loving family of men and Barbara.
Bar and I wonder how long this will go on. We hope we will feel this genuine closeness when we are 83 and 82. Wouldn’t it be exciting at that age to have a beautiful 3 ½ year old daughter … she doesn’t grow up. She’s with us, a vital living pleasurable part of our day-to-day life. I sometimes wonder whether it is fair to our boys and to our friends to “fly-high” that portrait of Robin which I love so much, but here selfishness takes over because every time I sit at our table with just our candlelight, I somehow can’t help but glance at this picture you gave us and enjoy a renewed physical sensation of closeness to a loved one.
This letter … is kind of a confessional … between you and me, a mother and her little boy now not so little, but still just as close, only when we are older, we hesitate to talk from our hearts quite as much.
There is about our house a need. The running, pulsating restlessness of the four boys as they struggle to learn and grow, their athletic chests and arms and legs; their happy noises as the world embraces them … all this wonder needs a counterpart. We need some starched crisp frocks to go with our torn-kneed blue jeans and helmets. We need some soft blond hair to offset those crew cuts. We need a doll house to stand firm against our forts and rockets and thousand baseball cards. We need a cut-out star to play alone while the others battle to see whose “family champ”. We even need someone who could sing the descant to “Alouette,” while outside they scramble to catch the elusive ball aimed ever roofward, but usually thudding against the screens.
We need a legitimate Christmas angel---one who doesn’t have cuffs beneath the dress.
We need someone who’s afraid of frogs.
We need someone to cry when I get mad—not argue.
We need a girl.
We had one once—she’d fight and cry and play make her way just like the rest. But there was about her a certain softness.
She was patient—her hugs were just a little less wiggly.
Like them, she’d climb in to sleep with me, but somehow she’d fit.
She didn’t boot and flip and wake me up with a pug nose and mischievous eye a challenging quarter-inch from my sleeping face.
No-- she’d stand beside our bed until I felt her there. Silently and comfortably, she’d put those precious, fragrant locks against my chest and fall asleep.
Her peace made me feel strong, and so very important.
“My Daddy” had a caress, a certain ownership, which touched a slightly different spot than the “Hi Dad” I love so much.
But she is still with us. We need her and yet we have her. We can’t touch her, and yet we can feel her.
We hope she’ll stay in our house for a long, long time.