It’s never easy to say farewell to your life partner. But for former President George H.W. Bush, one can only imagine the grief he’s feeling after the recent death of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Pierce Bush. The former first lady, who had faced health challenges for a number of years, decided to forgo further medical treatments just a days ago, opting instead to spend at home what many believed would be her final days of life.
The wife and mother of two U.S. presidents stood steadfast in her decades-long support of global literacy, a work that she began while serving as first lady and would continue even after her husband’s term in the White House ended, establishing a foundation that advocated family literacy and included the importance of parents reading to their children. She had long been a staunch champion for cancer research, particularly leukemia — a disease that took the life of her daughter when the child was just three years old. Far from a pushover, she even broke ranks when she disagreed with the status quo — including the time she publicly shared her pro-choice stance on abortion — a view with which her husband did not agree or support.
But Barbara Bush never strayed from what, or perhaps more accurately, who she loved most — her family. Those who knew her best have often noted the far reach of her influence on her large family — from her husband and children, including her firstborn son, former President George W. Bush, to her in-laws, grandchildren and the rest of the Bush clan. She seemed to always work toward and hope for achieving the best in for other families in her country. And she expressed her hope that somehow those who saluted the American flag and lives in its shores would live and love without differences of race, creed or religion serving as obstacles to their dreams.
She was a class act, a first lady in every respect and a mother hen who held fast to the more noble aspects and traditions of our country and sought to keep her family grounded in similar fashion.
Barbara and George H.W. Bush shared a love that has few parallels, at least in the public sphere. We honor her memory, thank her for her service to our country and send our prayers to those upon whom she doled out her love for over nine decades of life.