KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — It’s a wish more than 20 years in the making and on Tuesday, 105-year-old Millie Rennie’s wish was granted — to meet President George H.W. Bush.
Rennie, who lives at The Lodges Care Center in Springvale, knew as fellow residents gathered in the dining room Tuesday that a surprise was coming, she just didn’t know what. But she was ready, wearing a beautiful blue dress with sparkling beading on top, her hair and nails freshly done.
Then, in came members of the York County Elder Abuse Task Force who told Rennie that she had been nominated for the organization’s Wishing Well Project — an opportunity for York County residents age 65 and older to fulfill the one wish that they never have. And while the deadline for nominations isn’t until Aug. 8, task force co-chair Candice Simeoni happened to open the first entry she received and said “we need to make this happen.”
“Oh my word,” Rennie said, as Mary Jo Paiva, resident care director at the assisted living facility, told her that she would soon be taking off from The Lodges to head to Kennebunkport, in particular Walker’s Point, where the Bush family spends their summers, to meet the former president.
Paiva nominated Rennie for the Wishing Well Project, describing the “spry” 105-year-old as a “lovely lady,” who “loves her jewels, or as she calls it her bling,” and has “become dear to all of us.”
“She keeps up with all the current news. Which brings up her long time wish to meet George Bush,” Paiva wrote in the nomination letter. “She really does admire him. She was delighted to see him jump from a plane. She always thought someday, somehow, she would get to meet the president. It hasn’t happened yet.”
Rennie told Paiva that she’s wanted to meet Bush since she first voted for him.
After reading the nomination letter, Simeoni, administrative supervisor/court officer at the Kennebunk Police Department who founded the YCEATF in 2006, said she turned to her Police Chief Bob MacKenzie to help make the connection happen. They both came to The Lodges Tuesday, MacKenzie presenting Rennie with a bouquet of red roses, while Simeoni placed a corsage, with a beaded bracelet — homage to Rennie’s beloved “bling” — on her wrist.
“It gives me butterflies,” Simeoni said of being able to grant Rennie’s wish.
As she prepared to meet the former president, Rennie thought of the first words she may say to him, coming up with, “I’m here for you.”
After sharing in her excitement with other residents, Rennie was whisked away to Walker’s Point, where Bush was waiting. The two sat and talked for about a half an hour, Simeoni said, adding Rennie “kept his hand warm” the entire time.
Those involved in Tuesday’s surprise were thrilled to be able to make it happen.
“She’s just such a special lady. She’s become very dear to me. I knew it was something she’d really like,” Paiva said. “She’s very fond of George Bush and she deserves it. She’s just special.”
Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Millie Rennie is the oldest resident of the state of Maine.