A Vt. native says his personal connection to the late President George H.W. Bush has taught him that even the most powerful political figures are just like us.
Caleb Parent, who grew up in Burlington and graduated from Mount Mansfield Union High School, is now a paramedic firefighter in the town of Scarborough, Maine.
In the spring, a former instructor called him. President George H.W. Bush’s team needed some help.
“They were looking for more staff for this last summer so he left me a message on my phone asking if it was something I was interested in. And I couldn’t turn down that opportunity,” said Parent.
Parent spent as many as 36 hours every week from May to October providing medical care to the former president at his Kennebunkport compound in Maine.
“Very humble and kind person. I feel like he treated everyone, all the staff, the cooks, the house cleaners, with as much respect as he would his family. That was something that I really enjoyed about 41 in particular as well as his entire family,” said Parent.
The Bush family visited often in the summer, including George W. Bush, who Parent met.
“They have their own struggles. They’re happy. They have their own things that they have to work out. I feel like, really shed light on the fact that they’re just like anyone else,” he said.
His favorite memory of the late president was his ability to laugh.
“Although we kind of had a professional relationship, we were allowed to still kind of jest with him. I feel like that’s something that I really took home was his sense of humor,” said Parent.
This week, Parent was invited to attend President Bush’s funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.
“The whole service was very well put together and it was a definitely a powerful ceremony, a tear jerker for sure,” said Parent.
His experience getting to know an American political dynasty up close and personal proved to be a lasting lesson for Parent.
He learned, whether it’s taking care of Vermonters or a former president, people are people.
“The amount of humility and courage and devotion to duty that President Bush 41 as well as the entire family kind of portrays, seeing them kind of as regular people, and not in the public eye, kind of sheds light on the fact that they’re just like anyone else,” said Parent. “I think that’s something everyone should know about the family. They’re very kind, caring and down to earth people, for sure.”