“It was the most unbelievable day for me,” she said after having her books signed by the former president, and also first lady Laura Bush. “I’m just so appreciative and grateful to God for this opportunity. It means everything to me.”
In the past year, Hardison has endured two surgeries, chemotherapy, a transfusion and radiation for invasive ductal cancer. But she has nothing but praise for God. “The Lord Jesus allowed me this miracle–to have this desire of my heart. The two biggest desires that I have, beside my family, were to meet Dr. Billy Graham and President Bush.”
The flight attendant, who proudly wore her uniform to meet the former president, says she wanted to thank him. “I stood in front of my television on 9-11 and watched the second tower go down. And I was devastated, but I knew we had the best president in command for such a time as this.
“I am grateful to President Bush for his decision-making that allowed the planes to be landed quickly and to secure the safety of airline personnel and passengers. It gave me a sense of peace, knowing he was in office at that time,” she says.
As for Rev. Graham, Hardison says she watched him on television since she was a small child. “He is the epitome of what an evangelist, pastor and godly man should be. I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t look up to Rev. Billy Graham.”
Hardison asked Christ into her life when she was 9 years old, but went through a prodigal phase as an adult. In 1990, she rededicated her life and became a born again Christian. “Jesus became the forefront of my life from that point on,” she adds.
Then, last October, she went to her kitchen sink and said, “Jesus, I know you are coming soon. If I am not ready, get me ready, no matter what it takes. And it scared me as soon as I said it. But I prayed it again.”
Soon after, a friend started begging her to get a mammogram. “In eight years,” she recalls, “I did not get a mammogram, because I was concerned about radiation. Out of the blue, my friend started urging me to go. Because of that, I made a promise. When she tried to make an appointment, they didn’t have anything for the rest of the year. Then, miraculously, there was a cancellation last November 3. I went and they called me back and told me I have invasive ductal cancer.”
The past year was filled with doctors, procedures and transfusions. “But now I am on the end of that process. God had a purpose for my life, and I know part of it is related to 100strong.net, an international prayer line that I’m part of. He got me through the most dangerous time of my life, and this event is the culmination.”
She describes the “surreal” experience: “I was standing behind some soldiers when Rev. Graham and President Bush came in. They both were so excited to see the soldiers. Mr. Bush pointed over at my direction, at the soldiers. It was just like President Bush to regard his soldiers so highly. That endeared him even more to me.
“As I continued through the line, the excitement was building. I didn’t know if I would have a chance to even say anything! Of course, you think ahead of time, ‘What would I say to the president if I had something to say?’
“When I went up there, he stopped and shook my hand. I was awestruck and said, ‘You are the best president we’ve ever had.’ And he said, ‘You are so sweet.’ That was the extent of it, and I felt a little silly, but I had a verbal conversation with the president!”
Hardison says that even when she volunteered for President Bush during both campaigns, she never got the chance to shake his hand. “I have had that dream for a long time. God cares about the smallest desires of our hearts. This desire I had all my life came to pass.
“The day was wonderful,” she adds. “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to be able to be in the presence of two great men and a great woman, not just politically but spiritually.”
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