On Tuesday, the world got a little bit duller due to the passing of beloved former First Lady Barbara Bush.
Admittedly, the ever-classy Barbara lived a long, full, life, passing away at the impressive age of 92. However, the absence in this world her passing leaves still cannot be overlooked.
As a first lady, she was known for speaking her mind with wit and wisdom, being a great influence on those around her and being one of the most beloved women in the nation. Her trademark string of pearls and snowy white hair were part of the look that’s become synonymous with the regal White House spouse.
Barbara was born on June 8th, 1925 and grew up in New York City. Her father, Marvin Pierce was related (somewhat distantly) to former President Franklin Pierce. Her mom, Pauline Pierce, was the daughter of a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice.
Barbara first met George when he was only 17 and she was just 16 years-of-age. They met at a dance and committed to maintaining a long-distance relationship. This was necessary due to the fact that George joined the Navy shortly thereafter, becoming the youngest combat pilot in WWII.
Barbara Bush had six children named George, Pauline (nicknamed Robin), Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorthy. The Bush’s also were blessed with 14 grandchildren who Barbara simply adored. One of her most famous quotes has to do with the importance she placed on family.
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal,” she once said. “You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a parent.”
The fragility of life and the importance of spending time with loved ones was a lesson Barbara learned the hard way, partly through experiencing the loss of a child. Her beloved Robin tragically died at the young age of three after losing a battle with leukemia. Shortly thereafter, in 1949, Barbara also faced the unexpected loss of her mother who died in a car accident.
The trauma that Barbara endured in suffering these two significant losses so close together caused her formally reddish-brown hair to turn a brilliant white. Instead of covering up her white hair, she wore it proudly, owning the pain she had been through. In some ways, her white hair became her badge of honor, her proof that life had given her all she could take and more and yet she still stood strong. This isn’t to say she didn’t have her problems. However, she rose above them all.
Barbara was known as “The Enforcer” among her family members. This nickname was given to her by her son who also happens to be a former President, George W. Bush. Her fighting nature, one that refused to give up was what earned her this clever moniker. She used this tenacity to fight illiteracy head-on by creating her own literacy organization called the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. Barbara believed very strongly in the power of reading, and encouraged parents to spend time together enjoying the act.
Barbara grew up in an Episcopalian church in New York and continued to nurture her faith in St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where she and her family attended. Her funeral was held in her beloved Episcopal Church, allowing all who loved her to say one final goodbye.
Barbara Bush was a woman of a different time: regal, classy and tough. She lived through emotional pain, health problems and the rigors of life in the limelight yet she remained ever faithful to God, her family, and her country. If anyone is wondering about Barbara’s state of mind at the end of her life, there is no need to fear, she herself said it best: “I know there is a great God, and I’m not worried.”
Of, course the heartfelt comment made by George W. Bush after his mother’s passing is also worth noting, “We are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was.” Rest in Peace, Barbara.
~ 1776 Christian