Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Remembering Barbara Bush

with 5 comments

Former First Lady Barbara Bush died a few days ago at age 92, and her life was so extraordinary, I had to gather my thoughts for a few days in order to write about her.

First, she was an outspoken First Lady in many respects. She could be tart, was opinionated and made no bones about it, was often amusing (in a wry way), refused to be what was considered “the perfect political spouse” — and the American public adored her for all of that.

Second, as both the wife of one President and the mother of another, she stands alone among First Ladies of the United States, and probably will for a long time (if not for all time).

Third, she was a pro-choice Republican. These are rarer than hen’s teeth on the ground these days in the U.S., but once upon a time, there were any number of women (and, probably, a few men also) in the GOP who believed that women had the right to deal with their own bodies that no one else could — or should — gainsay. (Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion, counter to what right-wing pundits may say these days. What it does mean is closer to Hillary Clinton’s view of abortion: “Safe, legal, and rare.”)

Fourth, Mrs. Bush proved that you could both be for “female causes” and still be what is considered by most a “traditional woman” — i.e., her family was at the center of her life, and she fought like tooth and nails for them. This is what feminism can and should be: the right to choose your own life, in or outside of the home.

Fifth, Mrs. Bush was a lifelong advocate for literacy. She believed you should read. Educate yourself. Learn something. And keep on learning until the end of your life.

These five things seem to me to be the most important things no one is talking about in relation to Mrs. Bush. And yet, they were the underpinnings of what she was all about. Family. Literacy. Independence. The right to choose your own fate.

Oops, almost forgot one. She was a proud grandmother, too. She enjoyed “kissing their boo-boos” (their minor injuries) and giving her love and support to them, and showed them the power of unconditional love and support.

All in all, I think we need more women like Mrs. Bush. She wasn’t always easy to handle, could be stubborn as a mule when it came to her family (and, perhaps, her causes), certainly had her moments of anger and frustration and heartache and pain — but she rose above all of it, and had a life that many would envy: one filled with love, happiness, and public service.

Those six things are what comes to mind, when I think about the long and fruitful life of Barbara Bush. What do you think about, when you think of her? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Responses

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  1. Wouldn’t Abigail Adams also fall under spouse/mother to Presidents? Though I think she died before John Quincy Adams was elected.

    kamas716

    April 19, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    • Yes, she does, Kamas. Though as you say, I think she was dead by the time her son became POTUS. (That family is also noteworthy in American politics, especially as J.Q. Adams went back to the House of Reps after being POTUS.)

      Good addition!

      Barb Caffrey

      April 19, 2018 at 6:20 pm

  2. Wonderful tribute. Not known much in the UK, but by those who did know of her as ‘a safe and worthy pair of hands’- which is high praise by UK standards.

    Woebegone but Hopeful

    April 20, 2018 at 10:53 am

    • Thanks, Roger. I hope I did her some justice. She was more “real” than most political spouses. And people loved her for that.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      • Between us Sheila and I will have to read up on her (sometimes one reads one book and tells the other all about it)

        Woebegone but Hopeful

        April 21, 2018 at 2:23 am


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