Marshall Ramsey was awakened by his wife late last Friday night with the news: President George HW Bush had just died. Right away, Ramsey thought back to his idea.
When former first lady Barbara Bush died in April, Ramsey, the editorial cartoonist for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, created a memorial illustration that went viral. Days later, when her husband of 73 years became ill, Ramsey began thinking about a companion cartoon as trbiute to Bush. “But he’s tough as nails and bounced back,” Ramsey said. “So I just filed the idea away.” Until Friday night, when Ramsey learned that the 41st president had died at age 94. “I drew it as quickly as I could and then posted” it on social media, Ramsey says of the tribute.
This one was indeed right, and readers called it “beautiful” and “touching”. The cartoon in April pictured Barbara Bush in heaven, being reunited with her daughter Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, who died of leukemia in 1953. The Bush parents had called Robin’s death, at age three, their greatest sorrow. In the new cartoon, George HW Bush, the former navy pilot and Second World War hero, has flown a TBM Avenger to the pearly gates to be reunited with wife and daughter. Ramsey was humbled by the praise that the cartoon drew, especially that of Jenna Bush Hager, the Bushes’ granddaughter. “This brought me such comfort this morning,” Hager wrote on Facebook, with a shared image of the cartoon. “I had the opportunity to talk with my grandpa about the afterlife. When I asked him whom he hoped to see when reunited, he replied: “I hope I see Robin, and I hope I see Barbara.”
Ramsey said he also got an email from a mother who shared her conversation with her dying five-year-old about them reuniting in heaven. “Honestly, that moved me to tears,” he said.