Regarding an absence that will be noted for years to come …

Regarding an absence that will be noted for years to come …

■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE

This gracious, wonderful woman has passed away at the age of 92, just days after making the decision that she would no longer accept medical care outside her Texas home. I am so glad she was surrounded by familiar things, family and friends when she passed.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush, your Boca Grande family is grieving when we realize we won’t see you here again. There are many of us who respected you immensely, and the love you received from your family when you all visited here was apparent.

For many years on New Year’s Eve, right about 10 or 11 a.m., I would stand on the sidewalk outside The Gasparilla Inn & Club and wait for the Bush family to walk through the doors. They left at the same time almost every year, headed to Houston or D.C. or wherever they were to spend the holiday that year. They knew I was press, but we had a deal: I wouldn’t run photos of the family on the island until they were already gone. I just wanted them to have some peace while they were here.

This particular year Mrs. Bush looked right at me and smiled and waved. Her smile was not freely given, but on this day in 2010 it was such a gift for me.

Please say a prayer for the journey Mrs. Bush has made, and for her family members who are missing her.