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I’m Just Saying: Godspeed, Barbara, the former First Lady who always represented elegance, charm

When my student and friend, Laurie, arrived for her weekly riding lesson on Wednesday, she pulled back the neck line of her knit top to expose her necklace.

“Look,” she said. “I’m wearing my pearls.”

I stared blankly, not following. They were pretty indeed, I thought, but during a lesson?

“For Barbara,” she gave me a further clue. “Barbara Bush.”

Of course…I felt as thick as two planks for not immediately recognizing the connection.

Laurie went on to say that she had seen Laura Bush on morning television, speaking about the loss of the beloved family matriarch and America’s former First Lady, and she was wearing pearls in remembrance as well.

What a lovely and touching tribute, particularly as Mrs. Bush was often chided about those pearls — seemingly an obligatory part of every ensemble she wore. But she came from the same generation as my own mother, which dictated its timeless style: pearls before the cocktail hour, diamonds after.

Diamonds worn during the daytime were considered, my mother would always sniff in her clipped, English accent, “Showy. Rather tacky, actually.”

It’s a well-known fact Barbara Bush enjoyed sipping a good bourbon, and I have no idea if she ever changed into diamonds for dinner or not.

But I do so love that a gesture like Laurie’s, which was authentically respectful in nature and came from a place of true affection, was displayed during this outrageous theater of politics that surround us all now. Pearls will always represent elegance and charm, and I can’t think of two better words to describe our former First Lady.

I have mourned her deeper than I thought I might, frankly. Pondering upon it, I realized my grief was linked to a belief that,  like her husband, she was a member of “The Greatest Generation,” and while she was still with us, she was a reminder of what honesty, courage and integrity looked like.

I am grieving the loss of what she stood for as much as the woman, herself. We seem to operate at such a deficit in that department today.

It was reported in the news that during a Sunday afternoon, just two days before her death, Mrs. Bush was sitting in her garden, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her shoulders.

I’ll bet those pearls were glistening.

Pam Stone, of Landrum, is a comedian, author and horse dressage trainer.