15 Fascinating Facts You Probably Never Knew About Barbara Bush
Son and former president George W. Bush wrote about his mother’s death: “Laura, Barbara, Jenna and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know her’s was.” As the country celebrates the former first lady, here are some facts about not only her health challenges, but the woman herself. She also shares her secret to a long life on page 14.
1. For George and Barbara it was love at first sight
A rarity in today’s society, George and Barbara Bush married young and remained together for over seven decades, People reports. The couple met when they were teenagers and married on January 6, 1945.
One family friend told People, “They were so happy together and so committed to each other. They were always so kind to one another. They’ve been role models in a lot of ways.”
Next: This is what the former president tells his wife every night.
2. After 73 years he still said this
Granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager talked about her grandparent’s lifelong love.“She’s with my grandpa, the man she’s loved for over 73 years,” Good Housekeeping reports. “They are surrounded by family, but I think the fact that they’re together and that he still says, ‘I love you Barbie’ every night is pretty remarkable.”
Next: Their marriage holds the record for this.
3. George and Barbara Bush hold this record
Barbara and George Bush set the record for the longest marriage of any first couple, The New York Daily News reports. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter hold the title of having the second longest presidential marriage, according to Politico.
Next: She made history this way too.
4. Bush was one of the few women to hold this title
Next: Bush is also a unique author.
5. She wrote two books about these family members
Next: This is the tragic reason her hair turned grey and then white.
6. She had her signature white mane for many years
Bush’s brown locks turned grey when her 3-year-old daughter Pauline battled leukemia, The New York Times reports. Pauline died from the disease and Bush shunned dying her grey hair, which eventually turned white.
Next: This is the real reason for her signature pearls.
7. This was why Bush always wore the triple strand pearl necklace
Known for donning a gorgeous pearl necklace, Bush said the reason she always wore it was cover the wrinkles around her neck, according to The New York Times. Her triple strand necklace made a fashion statement during her husband’s 1989 inauguration.
Next: She’s fought this disease for many years.
8. Her health challenges started decades ago
Bush was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease in 1989, according to CNN. Graves’ Disease involves the overproduction of thyroid hormones, resulting in hyperthyroidism, according to Mayo Clinic.
Next: But she also faced other health issues.
9. Bush also dealt with these serious conditions
Bush had surgery in 2008 to correct a perforated ulcer, CNN reports. The following year she had heart surgery, plus dealt with a mild Graves’ disease relapse in 2010.
Next: The Bush couple were noticeably missing from this event.
10. The Bush’s health took center stage during this event
Both George and Barbara Bush faced dire medical challenges in the last few years. Most noticeably, she and the former president were absent from Donald Trump’s inauguration due to health problems, NPR reports.
Bush was hospitalized because of fatigue and coughing, most likely from her COPD and congestive heart failure. George Bush suffers from a syndrome that resembles Parkinson’s disease.
Next: She battled bravely.
11. Bush fought the good fight
Bush sought treatment for COPD and congestive heart failure over the past year, being hospitalized several times in Houston, Texas, ABC News reports. Treatment for COPD may include oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and surgery according to Mayo Clinic.
Next: In the end Bush focused on comfort.
12. Bush sought comfort over aggressive treatment
Days before her death, a family spokesperson said Bush will no longer seek medical treatment and will instead focus on “comfort care,” NBC News reports.
“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,” according to the statement.
Next: Does this mean she refused medical treatment?
13. What is comfort care?
Comfort care means that rather than using medical treatment to extend life, doctors focus on pain relief to reducing suffering, according to Today.
“Comfort care doesn’t mean hastening death or prolonging death, but really allowing a natural death — as natural as possible — and making the patient pain-free and anxiety-free along the way,” Dr. Sucharita Kher, a pulmonologist who was not treating Bush, told Today.
Next: Bush shared her secret to a long life.
14. This was her secret to living into her 90s
Bush said that being vigilant with her health allowed her to live well into her 90s. USA Today reports, “I have had great medical care and more operations than you would believe,” she wrote in the Smith College’s alumnae magazine. “I’m not sure God will recognize me; I have so many new body parts!”
Next: Her true spirit shines through.
15. Bush remained feisty until the end
Although Bush sought comfort care, she was present and engaging. Prior to her death, Ambassador C. Boyden Gray told People that Bush was, “not quite ready to sign off.” And she was still taking calls herself too.
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