A COUNTRY ROAD. My son and I are enjoying the drive through this northwest corner of Connecticut even though it is a grey winter’s day.

The two of us are in high spirits, searching on the radio for mutually congenial music, and having a laugh when something unlistenable or absurd blasts out from some station or another.

Towards noon, on a whim, we look again for some news, and a station comes through loud and clear, with a New Yorker’s voice reminiscing about someone he clearly knew well. Soon we realize we are hearing Andrew Cuomo, current governor of New York, eulogizing his father Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York. The father died on New Year’s Day just a few hours after the son was inaugurated for his second term as governor. We were hearing the service live from a Catholic church.

Few 16-year-olds would know the name of Mario Cuomo, or anything about his three terms as governor of New York, or his eloquent enunciation of the liberal ideal in his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic national convention, or his dramatic quandaries about running for the presidency in his own right. So I explained a bit to my son, as best as I could remember.

It is good that a son can have the opportunity to eulogize a father — much better, goodness knows, than the other way around. And there is something especially interesting when son and father have followed the same calling — whether farmer, doctor, fisherman or statesman. 

So we listened for a while to the younger Cuomo “singing,” in a sense, for his father. Of course, he was also singing for himself. Each had known the podium in Albany where Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Rockefeller had once stood. Each had seen the view from the same windows of their high office, and considered the same high (and low) problems. For they never really go away, those problems of government. Just as fields must be tilled (and, to extend the political metaphor, fertilized), and fishing gear and boats repaired, over and over again.

As often happens on country roads, far from the broadcasting station or shadowed by hills, the reception began to fade. A closer and more powerful station with some kind of jazz music began cutting in and out of the service from the church. The interference got so bad we had to change the station.

I suppose, if nature proceeds in the normal order, we may someday hear George W. Bush eulogize his father George Herbert Walker Bush.

I met the father twice. The first time was in 1980, in Beijing, when I was fresh out of college, and I found myself at a reception for Bush senior when he was a candidate for vice president. He moved through the reception with great energy and charm. He spoke engagingly to the group about his time as representative at the U.S. liaison office in Beijing, and as ambassador to the UN, and as head of the CIA.

During a time for questions, I rose (a bit nervously) to ask one. “Ambassador Bush, you have been in positions of power, and may again soon be in a position of great power and responsibility. When you have an important decision to make, what fundamental principles do you rely on?”

Bush replied: “We really should discuss that over a beer. But if I had to make a short answer, I think I would say just two things: my personal faith — though I don’t wear it on my sleeve — and my strong belief in the dignity of the individual.”

In 2000, 20 years later and this time in Hong Kong, I found myself again at a luncheon reception for Bush senior and seated at the same table. (Ironically, since “W” was then running for president, he told us that he and Mrs. Bush had “always thought it would be Jeb.”)

During a time for questions, I stood up and (again, a bit nervously) recounted for the group the question “a young man” had asked Bush in Beijing some 20 years before. I recited the exact words that Bush had used to respond. (I did, though, leave out the part about the beer.) I then noted that in the intervening years Bush had been president when American armies fought in the Middle East, Germany had been reunified, and the Cold War ended.

I then asked: “Mr. President, given what you know today, especially from your time in the White House, has anything caused you to modify your earlier answer?”

“Did I say that!” he said, at first, to general amusement. “It sounds too eloquent, more like Reagan.”

Then, more quietly, and to a quieter room, he said, “I wouldn’t change a word.”