KENNEBUNKPORT (NEWS CENTER Maine) – Friends of former first lady Barbara Bush who live in Maine expressed their sadness after they learned of the announcement Saturday that she will begin comfort care.
The former First Lady and her family spend summers at their compound on Walker’s Point. Many of their friends in downtown Kennebunkport said they are sad to hear the news, but understand why she made the decision.
► PHOTOS | Barbara Bush through the years
”You’re ready, but you’re never ready. You’re not ready. You’re like, ‘wait, no, no, one more summer,” said Helen Thorgalsen, co-owner of H.B. Provisions, a sandwich shop and convenience store in Kennebunkport. “It’s hard to accept that it’s really here.”
Thorgalsen’s wife, and fellow co-owner, Bonnie Clement, said the two have known the Bush family for 17 years. The 41st President and his wife were witnesses at their wedding and signed their wedding certificate.
”She would want everybody to know that her life could not have been fuller,” said Clement. ”We’ve had an opportunity to be with her and be in her daily life at times when she’s here. It’s a gift. It’s an amazing gift.”
While Clement and Thorgalsen have made many memories with the Bush family, others in the small seaside town have had fewer, but equally meaningful interactions.
John Burns, a law student at American University in Washington, D.C., graduated from Kennebunk High School in 2013. As part of Project Graduation, he held a fundraiser with Mrs. Bush’s help.
The family lent him the use of their home at Walker’s Point for the tradition called “ramming,” where students take pictures of the high school mascot, a ram, at different locations.
Mrs. Bush later congratulated Burns on his graduation in a recorded video message. That story was picked up by the Associated Press.
”We told her about it, and she said, ‘of course, I am the former first lady,’” said Burns. “Her wit and the quick response was too funny, and she was gracious and kind.”
Mrs. Bush also wrote the foreword in a book he wrote about her husband.
“She has a smile in her heart,” said Clement. “Everybody in this town that has lived here forever has been touched by them.”