When her daughter Pauline underwent unsuccessful treatment for leukemia and died at the tender age of 3 in October 1953, former First Lady Barbara Bush’s hair turned from brown to its trademark grey.
And that’s the way it stayed, because, she said, she preferred to be thought of as “everybody’s grandmother.”
It was a fitting term for a woman who married a president and then gave birth to a son who would become one.
But Bush, 92, is now in failing health and after being in and out of the hospital for the past year, she decided not to seek further medical treatment, her spokesman said in a statement:
“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”
Statement by the Office of George H. W. Bush on the health of former First Lady Barbara Bush. pic.twitter.com/4csUS6IRKZ
— Jim McGrath (@jgm41) April 15, 2018
Her husband, former president George H.W. Bush, 94, has also had his share of health problems over the past year and has been in and out of the hospital. He has a form of Parkinson’s disease and has dealt with pneumonia and chronic bronchitis.
In 2014, while in Kennebunkport (where he and his wife maintain a summer home), he fell and broke a bone in his neck.
He was president from 1989 to 1993, after having served as vice president and as a congressman and director of the CIA. He now gets around in a wheelchair.
A native of Rye, New York, Barbara Pierce Bush married at 19, while George Bush was a naval aviator. When World War II ended, the young family moved to Texas and became involved in the oil business.
Thoughts with one of America's most loved women , former First Lady Barbara Bush. Her health has been deteriorating and I join thousands in hoping she is comfortable and knows how loved she is throughout the world! 🇱🇷
— Kay Bailey Hutchison (@kaybaileyhutch) April 15, 2018
Prayers going up for a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country. Our country is better because of former First Lady Barbara Bush ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/pewdIu2hjr
— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) April 15, 2018
Keeping Barbara Bush and her family in my heart and prayers. I will never forget how kind she was to me on every occasion we met, and how fondly the White House staff always spoke of her.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 15, 2018
Angela and I join countless Americans in praying for one of our favorite Texans, Barbara Bush. She is graceful and strong, and her legacy is a blessing to our nation and the world.
— Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) April 15, 2018
I am sending all my love and prayers to the entire Bush family today – Barbara Bush is a woman of great strength, patriotism and an iconic first lady of our times who has touched and inspired countless lives.
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) April 15, 2018
My thoughts are with the remarkable Barbara Bush. Her charitable work on literacy alone has made such an impact on the world. https://t.co/InCwMsLxcS
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) April 15, 2018
Along with penning her memoirs, Bush wrote the books C. Fred’s Story and Millie’s Book about the Bush family pooches. Proceeds from those books helped programs dedicated to adult and family literacy, and while she was in the White House, The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy was founded.
The program aimed to better the lives of disadvantaged families by helping parents and their children learn to read. The foundation joins forces with local programs and has awarded more than $40 million to implement and expand at least 1500 programs across the country.
This video from CNN has more about the life of Barbara Bush.
Featured image by CNN via YouTube video.