LOS ANGELES: Before there was Princess Diana, there was First Lady Barbara Bush. Somewhere in our galaxy of infinite planets, there may be an individual lifeform that disliked former First Lady Barbara Bush, but that is doubtful. On earth, Mrs. Bush was virtually universally loved and admired. Tributes and condolences are filling the home she shared with her husband of 73 years. Barbara Bush was that rare combination of aristocracy and down-home average neighbor. The quintessential political blue blood who everyday Americans found relatable. Dignified and upper crust without a trace of elitism or snobbery.
Barbara Bush was everything Hollywood mocks
Tinseltown is all about glitz and glamour. Its celebrities are often criticized for being phony, from insincere handshakes to plastic surgeries. Barbara Bush was the lady in white hair. Oh, that hair. Cicero had his silver hairs. Barbara Bush had her white hair. She refused to color it because she was who she was, and she was comfortable with who she was. She was teased by many comedians about her hair. The late Robin Williams compared her to George Washington. She also inspired many other people to grow old gracefully rather than fight a losing battle against Father Time. My own mother begged my dad to color his once thick mane of black hair. He sternly refused by saying,
“No. I’m an old bat and I know I’m an old bat. I’m going the full Barbara Bush!”
Barbara Bush: Protective wife of her husband, mother of her children, First Lady of her country
She was the wife of President George Herbert Walker Bush and the mother of President George W. Bush. Yet she hated political dynasties despite being part of one. Mrs. Bush repeatedly remarked that in the United States, there are plenty of capable political families who could govern. She was American political royalty despite having utter disdain for American political royalty.
She had a harsh word for anyone who tried to harm her family and a sharp, brash tongue for those same beloved family members.
Barbara Bush: Funny during the worst of times.
On the day of the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush finally reached his parents. They were in a hotel in Wisconsin.
When asked why she was in Wisconsin, Mrs. Bush retorted, “Son, you grounded our plane!” After George W. Bush gave a speech that was overwhelmingly pro-Israel, his mother had a field day with him. Calling her son, she told George W. she and his father, wanted to know how “the world’s first Jewish president was doing.”
Barbara Bush: Grandmother and lady first.
When the Bush twins Jenna and Barbara were caught drinking on a college campus before the legal drinking age, they were sent to grandmother for a weekend of tough love and discipline. Yet Mrs. Bush also quietly let the media know she was delighted that the girls were giving their father George W. grief to make up for the grief he gave her growing up.
One reason she was so beloved was her steadfast refusal to try and set policy. Rumors swirled during her husband’s presidency that she disagreed with him on some contentious social issues, especially abortion. Refusing to confirm or deny her alleged views, she made it clear why she would not speak up.
“I’m not the president.” – Barbara Bush
Several First Ladies over the decades have become lightning rods by attempting to pass legislation. Mrs. Bush understood that nobody elected her. She became vitally important by obstinately and consistently refusing to overstate her importance.
By understanding that no one is indispensable, she came as close as it gets.
After 73 years, America’s lengthiest presidential marriage ended. At age 92, “America’s Grandmother” left to be with God. As for which table she is sitting at, the answer is a simple one. She will sit at the head of whichever table she darn well pleases.
Somehow she will say that in an endearing manner.