Hi friends, as I am sure most of you have heard yesterday Barbara Bush ended her time on earth at an incredible 92. I am a big fan of the Bush family (and that reminds me, I still owe the blog a post on seeing her granddaughters speak) and so to think of her life as the matriarch of that whole gang is pretty impressive. In her photos, through her quotes, by her works of service you witness the incredible strength, poise, confidence and pride she possessed and how special it was for the world to have the privilege of sharing in her life.
Over the years I have enjoyed learning about the Bush family. I have read books, watched interviews, and celebrated the many milestones the family experienced. There are many things to admire and learn from these unique American icons – but when I think of Barbara specifically it was the way she composed herself that I admired the most. Outwardly she embraced her feminine role, but not at the risk of seeming meek or shy. She celebrated the opportunity to have an influence on the world, but never forgot it was a byproduct of being a wife. And she practiced a confidence in who she is that being heard or even understood was never more important than being true to herself.
So often in the world we live now, voices being heard seems to be at the risk of speaking over other voices. We can only truly hear the voice of a woman if we silent the voice of a man. Barbara Bush had a wonderful reputation and was able to leave her mark on the world in very large and valuable ways, yet she did not feel the need to always be heard. For instance it was a known fact that some of her political beliefs were completely opposite of the party her husband and sons have represented. Yet she still supported them because in her mind as a partner or mother it was more important to stand with her family, even that meant sacrificing other positions. First that shows some pretty darn impressive confidence in who she is – she did not have to be right and wasn’t afraid of others who thought differently than herself. And as a result it is said that Barbara served as President Bush’s greatest advisor. The fear in giving up your opinion or position is being seen as a doormat or not getting what you want – rather she was respected for her willingness to compromise. And what an example of putting your marriage first and the fruits that result from that labor.
Barbara seemed to have so much – wealth, fame, fortune, but none of those blessings precluded her from suffering. Losing her daughter to leukemia at 3 was certainly a tragedy that is truly one of the most unimaginable in life. A parent is never supposed to have to mourn their child… but she did and she opted to let an interesting result, her hair turning white extremely early, be an outward battle scar. No matter how many of us share the reality of life not going as we planned, we still dream of being in control. Those who choose to embrace the loss of control, the pain, and the beauty that can rise are an incredible testimony to possibility are amazing and Barbara opted to carry hers for all to see. What a beautiful reminder of survival and courage.
As we all honor the life and legacy of this incredible first lady, admirable wife, and incredible mother it is common for us to think what she must have felt like during these final days. Is she proud of her life? Does she feel her time was well spent? Did she do everything she hoped to? Do her experiences out weigh her regrets? While we ponder end of life with this very human lens, we will continue to hear quotes from her life – about family, about how time is spent, and we will wonder about our own existence. Do we live life like “one day or day one”? What change could we make now that will help us feel proud/content/happy at 92? In these moments I always feel the pull of two opposites: life is very short, but also there are so many moments – how do we even remember them all (knowing already there are plenty I have quickly forgotten)? So instead of the addition and subtraction game – a point for something good and deduction for something bad – I think we just honor Barbara by appreciating the life she has shared and what we can learn.
Thank you Barbara for sharing your life with us…. for being a pillar of strength and courage and for giving women a hero, whose greatest successes (wife, mother, grandmother) are roles reserved for the women of the world. And to the Bush family – it has not been easy to be in the spotlight, yet you all have chosen the good and the bad and continued to let us all in to watch and learn. God bless Barbara and you all during this time.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!