When Malia and Sasha Obama first arrived at the White House, they may have relied on the advice of their predecessors — another pair of sisters who knew a thing or two about growing up at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Back then, Jenna and Barbara Bush penned a letter offering advice for the young Obama girls as their father took over the Oval Office.
Eight years later, the twin daughters of President George W. Bush have once again reached out to the Obama sisters, this time offering advice on another transition very few in the world ever make: leaving the White House and moving on to civilian life.
In their newest letter to Malia and Sasha, published Thursday in Time magazine, Barbara and Jenna reminisce about meeting the then 7- and 10-year-old Obama girls at the White House on a cold November day. They gave them a tour of bedrooms that once belonged to them and showed them how to slide down the banister of the solarium.
“In eight years, you have done so much. Seen so much,” the Bush sisters write, noting Malia and Sasha’s meeting with Nelson Mandela in the cell where he was imprisoned for decades, as well as trips with their mother to Liberia and Morocco to speak with girls about the importance of education.
“We have watched you grow from girls to impressive young women with grace and ease. And through it all you had each other. Just like we did,” they say.
“Now you are about to join another rarified club, one of former First-Children — a position you didn’t seek and one with no guidelines. But you have so much to look forward to. You will be writing the story of your lives, beyond the shadow of your famous parents, yet you will always carry with you the experiences of the past eight years.”
The Bush sisters stress to Sasha, now 15, and Malia, 18, that there is much to look forward to, but urge them to keep close in their hearts the experiences of the past two terms.
They urge them to never forget the people who dedicated their lives to making the White House a home — including the florists, the grounds-keepers and the butlers.
“Our greeter as 7-year-olds at our grandfather’s inauguration was Nancy, the White House florist, who ushered us in from the cold. She helped us make colorful bouquets of winter flowers for our grandparents’ bedside,” the Bush sisters write. “Twenty years later, Nancy did the flowers for Jenna’s wedding. Cherish your own Nancy.”
Eun Kyung Kim