The Major Thing

The death of George HW Bush has caused me to reflect on what really matters to my children and others at the end of life.  As I was watching the eulogy given by his son George W Bush, I made a mental note of what actually mattered to George W at the end of his father’s life and what things had made him a better, well-adjusted adult.  

His father played games with them, had fun with them, had family dinners with them, and showed them integrity and love for others.  But the thing that seemed to leave the biggest impression on George W was that he loved their mother fiercely.  

Perhaps it was because George HW lost a child, that his family values were so on point.  

In the eulogy George W didn’t mention once that his parents made sure he had organic food his whole life, or had Pinterest worthy birthday parties, or the perfect monogrammed matching outfits with his siblings. He didn’t mention that his parents made sure their week was planned with playdates and millions of extracurricular activities.  He reflected over and over again about how much his dad loved and was dedicated to his mother. 

I worry that we get so caught up in the minor things that we forget the major thing which is teaching our kids what unconditional love and loyalty looks like.  

As a counselor, I see so many marriages falling apart and so much strife and discontentment in life occurring because so much time and attention is spent on the minor things.  The results of this are broken marriages, discontentment, lack of self-esteem, anger, addiction, depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicide.  All of the resources given to the minor things in turn cause the major things to fall apart.  

Feeling secure in a family will have more of a long term effect on the well-being of a person than any of the minor stuff so much of our time and effort is spent on.  We say our value is family, but our actions show something completely different. 

George HW lived to be 94 and evidently couldn’t stomach a vegetable, yet how much of our time is spent on worrying about what we put into our child’s stomach.  

My intent isn’t to say that being cognizant of health and physical well-being isn’t important.  My intent is to say that it isn’t the most important thing.  

Fight for your family.  Nurture your relationship with your spouse.  Don’t treat your children like your world revolves around them.  You might feel pressure or guilt when other people tell you all the wonderful things they are feeding their kids, or feel like less of a parent when you see another Pinterest perfect party, but don’t buy into it. It’s just a distraction from what really matters.  

Don’t make the minor stuff the major stuff.  Have fun, play games, have family dinner, be kind, do good in your community when you have opportunity, show integrity when no one is watching, and love your spouse fiercely.  Fight for your family.  At the end of your life this is what will matter to your children. 

Full Eulogy

Written by Karen Culbertson

Wife, mom and licensed mental health counselor.

80 comments

  1. You said it perfect ❤️
    That’s what God intended the family to be.
    In the end all that other stuff doesn’t matter.
    Our family is what matters
    Thank you for sharing your heart Karen 💝

    1. Very well written words of truth on family, love, loyalty and honing in on the most important things in life. Love, Life and the pursuit of happiness. I have watched the YouTube of George Bush eulogizing his Father and take note of the sincerity that is displayed. Prayers hugs and love for the family and nation regarding the homecoming of President George H.W. Bush a life well lived. May we never forget the example that he gave. God Bless the Bush family and the entire nation of America!

    2. And faith. He mentioned that! All of his children understood that was the foundation. The thread that helps us to understand and focus on what is most important. George W said his mom and dad prayed together every night. That is the secret

      1. I love Karen Culbertson’s take on W’s eulogy. It, in of itself, is heart-felt. But you, Kelsey Wethor, bring to light — the greatest revelation that W said, and somehow (through this post) was completely missed by Karen. I find her interpretation typical and alarming all at once. (Not seeing the real glue) It’s tough to know if whether George H.W. and Barbara loved each other fiercely because they prayed together OR they prayed together because they loved each other fiercely; not sure what came first. But my guess is their children saw and witnessed a unified front of both love AND faith. Yes, have fun, play games, enjoy family dinners — but what completely and eternally will undo and encourage your kids is watching dad and mom pray together. Don’t miss that part. That’s the most important thing.

    3. Love and Respect for a fellow Navy Man. May you find fair winds and calm seas. You will live in infamy as you enter the.gates of Vahalla. Skol!

    4. Thank you for these wise words. I realized that, although my parents are no longer with me, what I always remember about them is their love and dedication for each other and for all 4 of their children.!

    5. Actually…..God first and then family. Doing what God tells us to do will ensure that the family unit works. Without God at the top of the pyramid the family can sometimes falter without him being in control.

  2. This is the best article I’ve read in a while and can be applied to everyday life for every individual. 😊😊

  3. He also did not mention that he, himself, had been president.

    It was clear that he and his family was proud of their dad’s accomplishments, but they were honoring their father, not the president. I really loved that.

  4. There is a passage in the Bible in essence, ‘Do not watch what goes into your mouth, but what comes out of your mouth’.

  5. The late and better off dead George H W Bush was a drug dealer and a dictator. Read about Iran-contra and new world order he was involved with, people died and are still dying from cocaine and heroin he had brought into this country. Mrs. Bush was either a saint or a fool for staying with him.

    1. How sad and pathetic of you. Why even bother commenting on this article; if all you can do is spew ugly and hate.

      1. Only a deranged individual would post such garbage, it might be smart for this creep to remain unknown

    2. It’s just sad how, even in a time of sorrow and remembrance of someone who had a significant role in our country’s history, someone will take advantage of the opportunity to spew forth negativism and hatred. The saddest part is that it seems obvious that this person did not have the type of positive influence in their life that we’re noting that this former President had in his family.
      I hope that things turn for the better for you, Meme.

    3. That was totally uncalled for comment. If u can’t offer condolences on the loss our former president & the Bush family; then keeep to yourself!!!
      He was a great man & president.

      1. I watch CNN and have different political beliefs than George HW did… so please don’t generalize and lump everyone in with a hateful person. You are just as bad as the original poster when you do things like that!

    4. People died and are dying from cocaine & heroin that they CHOOSE to use. Own your decisions. Where there’s no demand, supply becomes irrelevant and unnecessary.

    5. I Bet That YOU Are A #45 SUPPORTER Because “HE” Was JUST AS RUDE, CRUDE At The Service By “NOT PARTICIPATING” But JUST TAKING UP SPACE & Acting Like A 3 Year Old “WHINY LITTLE BRAT” & Thinking, “NO YOU CAN’T MAKE ME”!! #45 DOES NOT DESERVE That Title That Goes With The OVAL OFFICE “UNLIKE FORMER EX-PRESIDENTS JIMMY CARTER, BILL CLINTON, BARACK OBAMA & GEORGE W BUSH” + INCLUDING “The FORMER GEORGE H. W. BUSH” Who EVEN In Death Has EARNED MORE RESPECT Than The OCCUPANT “Who Is A WASTE OF AIR & SPACE” In The “PEOPLE’S HOUSE”!! GOD BLESS GEORGE H.W. BUSH & The ENTIRE BUSH FAMILY!

    6. Do you think your comment is beneficial? Either you just don’t know better, or it defines who you are. Very sad.

    7. Why would you feel the need to make such a miserable comment? Now is not the time. This is more a negative representation of yourself rather than President Bush. You should really take a look deep into your soul and try to figure out why you’re like this.

  6. Great thoughts here written in an exemplary manner to bring others into the conversation (even if only w/ ourselves) of what matters most in a culture of convenience & so many choices multiplied 100x over from the few choices we had growing up. Thank you for sharing your heart on this and making it worthy of time taken to not only read the words but to consider and to ponder these thoughts during this Season of giving and reconnecting with family and friends.

  7. Your being able to pick out the “important stuff” of an emotional speech, and present it here, encourages me to know you are a counselor. Likely a very good one!

  8. Sometimes, people marry the wrong person. George HW apparently married the right person, and that made it easier to love her unconditionally. Sometimes you can work as hard as you want to, things don’t always work out. Some people wish for what George and Barbara had, and never find it.

    1. How different this is…..Compassion-alot compared to Camelot!…Genuine Family, selfless, not power hungry. Just wanted to serve others. But, most of all God, Marriage and Family above all else. I have framed pics of Bush 41 & 43 in our home. Not to gloat but, to be reminded of the great people they are and their example to others.
      Tim Sr.

  9. My parents were married 50 years when my dad died at 91. Mom lived another three years. They each had been born in 1917.
    Their marriage was all about their love for each other and for family.
    My dad was 40 when I was born and I can’t say that he played with me much as a kid but even though he worked a lot at running his own business he was, and my stay at home mom also, always there for my sister and me. We spent weekend together and traveled on vacations together. My parents followed or lives with love and encouragement.
    They grew up in a different era. One that wasn’t driven by stuff and technology.
    It was about work and love.
    Truly worthy of emulsion.

  10. Beautiful eulogy! George H.W. & Barbara had the same faith, values and visions for their marriage, family and future. By the grace of God, a sense of humor and His enabling Spirit they were able to accomplish what they had envisioned. What a blessing for all the children and generations to come. 🙏

  11. The Bush family has always demonstrated that family and faith is what it really is all about. Our country has now lost role models in Barbara and George Bush. May they Rest In Peace

  12. Thank you. Well said, however health, wellness and physical activity is directly correlated to our social/emotional and our self esteem. . It is important and a priority. Please do not diminish its’ importance. As an educator each component of health and wellness impacts our ability to build strong family and relationships. More endorphins and less cortisol. It is all interrelated.

    1. I believe she means lead your children in life do not let them lead you. Children need guidance as parents we should be able to give them that guidance if the children rule it’s kinda like letting the monkeys run the zoo

      1. Your family is complete when you marry your spouse. Children are an extension of that family. Show your kids that your spouse is important to you. Keep that relationship with your spouse alive and on fire. If you revolve your life around your children you put your spouse on the back burner. Once the children are grown and gone you may be looking at a stranger, not the spouse you fell in love with and married. Children are a part of the family, but your marriage doesn’t revolve around your children.

  13. You said it so well. We so often have our priorities in all the wrong places even though we mean well. Love for our God and our spouse is the basis of family.

  14. These are the things we should teach our children. I cried and shared this with my kids. Their father and i divorced after 25 years of a tumultuous relationship and they definitely bear scars.

  15. This part beautifully connected with me…

    “Don’t make the minor stuff the major stuff. Have fun, play games, have family dinner, be kind, do good in your community when you have opportunity, show integrity when no one is watching, and love your spouse fiercely. Fight for your family. At the end of your life this is what will matter to your children.”

    Thank you Karen

  16. Overall, a good post, and solid message. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, so I don’t want to leave junk like that anon. commenter above. (I was linked here by a friend’s facebook “share,” so I’ll consider myself a guest). My constructive criticism is that there must be a better way to focus on the “major” thing and differentiate it from “minor” things than focusing on food/diets. Despite George HW Bush’s famous dislike of vegetables, he may have had good genes or other habits that helped him reach his ripe old age. That’s not the case for most, and the poor diets of Americans contributes to our shorter-than-ever lifespans. We have an obesity epidemic, and it’s the root cause behind the major killers in America. My father is still a pastor, and just over 60 years old, has had several strokes and innumerable other health issues stemming from his “views” on food and diet. He will lose out on seeing his grandchildren grow up because of these habits. I’m not saying diet is more important than the “major” factors such as relationship with the Lord, but there must be a better target for your analogy: sports? academics? clothing & career (e.g., “lilies of the field”)? Take care & happy Advent! -B.

  17. I’m not sure who the audience of this article is, but my assumption is that the audience would be believers in Jesus Christ.

    If that’s the case, I think you missed “what really matters” to our children and those around us. What really matters is our love and obedience to God! The rest of the things that you mentioned would be fruit of loving and being obedient to God.

    “Have fun, play games, have family dinner, be kind, do good in your community when you have opportunity, show integrity when no one is watching, and love your spouse fiercely. Fight for your family. At the end of your life this is what will matter to your children.” This is also missing the point because our goal in life is not to do “what matters to our children.” Our goal, as believers in Jesus Christ, is ultimately bringing honor and glory to Him. Otherwise, our children (and family) are an idol.

    And my assumption is that all those things that you mentioned about President Bush were fruit of his love for the Lord!

  18. One of the best phrases I ever heard is, “The best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother”. I believe that if the marriage isn’t solid and strong, the children suffer. I believe George and Barbara are a wonderful example.

  19. Spot on! It would be helpful to explore the darker side of this (children now burdens to single life, etc.) & provide helpful advice there as well. This second scenario almost never produces mentally/emotionally fit adults who carry the disfunction to their children.

  20. The only thing anymore beautiful and touching besides George’s Eulogy about his daddy’s love for his mommy, is your “heartfelt” story about the Eulogy of this family……You nailed it…..❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️

  21. This was amazing and true but even more amazing and what really held the family together is their faith in Christ and God being the center of the Family first!

  22. Agree with the premise of the article, but putting organic food in the same category as Pinterest is not comparing apples to apples. The Bush’s were wealthy enough to have the best of everything and never wanted for the basics of food, shelter, heat, and clothing. Some people work very hard to provide this for their family and should not be judged if later they appreciate what the parent did and gave to provide.
    I’m glad GW seized the opportunity to share with the world the importance of family and a healthy marriage. He was very Blessed. But the author of the article needs better comparisons and a non-judgmental approach to those who do need to be concerned with where their food comes from.

  23. Loved this! Keep the main thing, the main thing. 1. Love and serve God. 2. Love and adore your spouse. 3. Love and cherish your kids. 4. Love and care for others. 5. Do the next right thing. 💕

  24. This is so true. My wife and I saw the marriages of friends fall apart and we were determined not to allow that to happen to ours. We started date nights when the kids were still pretty young and now that the kids are grown and gone, we still have date night….. we learned to talk about everything without “hurt feelings” and we learned to laugh together, sometimes at ourselves. We just celebrated our 37th Anniversary and we look forward to many more. I truly believe the foundation really started with our date nights because we were forced to focus on each other, even for just a few hours per week when life was spinning around kids, school, sports, careers, church etc……. and the time we spent on US made a difference .

  25. I hope that when I die that people talk most about how I loved the Lord. That I cared to be an Christian example for my daughter, son in law, and grandkids. This article left out what is most important a home in heaven.

  26. Hmm. All of these comments about how kids shouldn’t come before your spouse make me chuckle.

    My husband and I agreed we would dedicate the first few years of our children’s lives solely to them and our marriage is doing just great. We both saw it as our duty as parents and we were perfectly happy to do that for a season. That season’s over. We have plenty of time to spend together now. It was really cool that my husband had such a dedication to our kids. I loved seeing him as he cared for them and spent time with them.

    There were days while they were little that we would collapse in bed beside each other, exhausted but happy. We might have only had the energy for a quick peck on the lips. We certainly didn’t have the money for a monthly date night or even a sitter when we wanted to. There were grueling days. There were days I was certain that he was the only adult I’d ever speak to again. It was hard! Yet, I never doubted that he loved me or that our marriage was strong.

    I don’t buy in to the idea that you have to go on x amount of dates nights or your marriage is doomed or that your kids are merely an extension of your family with your husband and should be treated as less important.

    With good communication and the willingness of both spouses to put the entire family first, I don’t understand why so many people have problems.

    Marriage isn’t hard!! Yes, it’s work. Yeah, there are says that are hard, but overall, just don’t be selfish. That’s it. Just love each other. Talk to each other. Treat each other with respect. And don’t even consider that divorce is an option!

  27. I do believe it is well documented that George H.W. Bush had two extra marital affairs of significance. His wife had a breakdown and depression about the most significant one. I am floored that the public is not aware of them. That aside, his other attributes were lovely and noteworthy. The points made in this post by the author are great words to live by. I just can’t stay silent about the loyalty and dedication to his wife reference. Check out the documentation about the affairs if it’s important to you. It’s very sad but in other areas of his life he seemed to have integrity.

  28. Such a beautiful and heartfelt eulogy from a son representing his siblings. Was so impressed with his dignity, respect and sincerity for his father and mother without making it about politics and the historical fact of he and his father both being Presidents of our country! No political statements, which would be well deserving. He spoke as a son who loved and respected both his parents who prioritized their support & love for each other & their family, and their faith!! A message that should resonate with us all! Beautiful Eulogy. RIP George HW.

  29. I wonder if Prescott’s life regarding funding the Nazi regime ever compromised his personal life. Just curious.

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