KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush, who as a former CIA director knows how to keep a secret, helped to pull a fast one on his wife, Barbara.
The former first lady was surprised Thursday by the dedication of a garden in her honor on the Village Green in Kennebunkport, where they have a summer home.
The former president arrived in one vehicle and Barbara Bush arrived separately in another vehicle to find about 100 people under a white tent. She was returning from getting her hair done after the former president concocted a ruse in which she thought she was attending a ceremony at their office, spokesman Jim Appleby said.
The garden features flowers and one tree for each of their 17 grandchildren. It’s called Ganny’s Garden, bearing a nickname used by her grandchildren.
Barbara Bush, 86, joked that someone in the hair salon nearly gave away the surprise by asking whether an event was being held to honor her husband Wednesday. She responded by saying that wasn’t possible because they were going to a movie in the afternoon.
The former president, 87, arrived at the ceremony in a wheelchair before transferring himself to his seat. He now has difficulty walking because of vascular parkinsonism, a neurological condition that affects him below the waist, Appleby said.
Though he can walk, it’s easier for him to use a wheelchair or scooter when he has to cover longer distances; his mind remains as sharp as ever, Appleby said. Bush’s health problems have been previously reported in news media.