Just outside Fredericksburg, Texas, stands “The Texas Whitehouse”. It was the ranch home of Lyndon Johnson and his wife, Lady Bird. It boasts a total of 6,600 square feet and sits on a compound with an airstrip long enough for Air Force One to have landed there many times during his troubled presidency. What struck me the most, when I entered the house, was how understated, simple, but purposeful each room was. The park guide told us about the President’s office, of which Lady Bird carefully added and then later used as a second living space after he died. The office has now been restored to take you back to when he was at the height of his career. Lady Bird would place the Christmas tree in the office between the President’s desk and his secretary’s since he rarely would leave the telephone or the television mounted to the right of the fire-place. Their two girls would visit him there along with heads of state, congressmen and world leaders. If walls could talk…
When we moved from the living room to the dining room, the guide pointed out the President’s place at the head of the table and showed us his view of the three television sets (NBC, CBS, ABC), positioned side by side so that he could sit, eat and watch. There was a phone on the buffet next to his chair to call the network chiefs if something did not meet Lyndon’s approval. Apparently, after a stroke, Lady Bird placed the President on a restrictive diet for his own good; but, if you sat next to him he would eat off your plate, especially dessert. This embarrassed Lady Bird and she tried her best to keep those that would be least offended seated next to Lyndon and other dignitaries closer to her end of the table. The table was set with dishes that she received from her brother, painted with a blue bird, swirls and other embellishments. These were later discovered to have been painted with lead based paint and put away.
In their first bedroom together, the guide told us of how during the night the President would be needed. He would sit up in bed, with the first lady beside him, and conduct business without a second thought. Lady Bird built herself a bedroom of her own to be more accommodating. In his last years, the room was used to play cards or as a private sitting area and they had adjoining rooms elsewhere in the house.
Although we were unable to take photos inside, I have something imprinted on my heart that I saw in Lady Bird’s private bedroom. On her bed were three pillows: a bolster with “Lady Bird” delicately embroidered in green with a bird beside it; the pillow on the left was embroidered in the same shade and written in plain cursive was, “I slept and dreamed that life was beauty”; the one beside must have been the message of her heart, “I woke and found that life was duty”.
As daughters of The King, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, we all have duties to carry out. These past months have been so burdened with grief, despair, fluctuating between anger and healing, but somehow my duties have been carried out. Laundry, cooking, praying, gardening, birthday celebrations, spring break, homeschooling, bills, chickens, antique booth, all of these my duties; I am grateful for these and I am endeavoring to consider these my honor. I found this scripture and find it very helpful:
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of Life, so that I may rejoice in the Day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Phillipians 2:14-16
A work in progress is what I am.