Health of ‘grandma’ to Amer­ica now fail­ing

The Southland Times - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: For­mer first lady Bar­bara Bush is in ‘‘fail­ing health’’ and won’t seek ad­di­tional med­i­cal treat­ment, a Bush fam­ily spokesman said yes­ter­day.

‘‘Fol­low­ing a re­cent se­ries of hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions, and af­ter con­sult­ing her fam­ily and doc­tors, Mrs Bush, now age 92, has de­cided not to seek ad­di­tional med­i­cal treat­ment and will in­stead fo­cus on com­fort care,’’ spokesman Jim McGrath said.

He did not elab­o­rate as to the na­ture of Bush’s health prob­lems. She has been treated for decades for Graves’ dis­ease, which is a thy­roid con­di­tion, had heart surgery in 2009 for a se­vere nar­row­ing of her main heart valve and was hos­pi­talised a year be­fore that for surgery on a per­fo­rated ul­cer.

‘‘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,’’ McGrath said. ‘‘She is sur­rounded by a fam­ily she adores, and ap­pre­ci­ates the many kind mes­sages and es­pe­cially the prayers she is re­ceiv­ing.’’

Bush, who is at home in Hous­ton, is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a pres­i­dent.

The other was Abi­gail Adams, wife of John Adams, the na­tion’s sec­ond pres­i­dent, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth pres­i­dent.

Bush mar­ried Ge­orge H W Bush on Jan­uary 6, 1945. They had six chil­dren and have been mar­ried longer than any pres­i­den­tial cou­ple in Amer­i­can his­tory.

Eight years af­ter she and her hus­band left the White House, Bar­bara Bush stood with her hus­band as their son Ge­orge W was sworn in as the 43rd pres­i­dent.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s press sec­re­tary, Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, said ‘‘the pres­i­dent’s and first lady’s prayers are with all of the Bush fam­ily dur­ing this time.’’

Bush is known for her white hair and her triple-strand fake pearl neck­lace.

Her brown hair be­gan to gray in the 1950s, while her 3-year-old daugh­ter Pauline, known to her fam­ily as Robin, un­der­went treat­ment for leukemia and even­tu­ally died in Oc­to­ber 1953. She later said dyed hair didn’t look good on her and cred­ited the colour to the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of her as ‘‘ev­ery­body’s grand­mother’’.

Her pearls sparked a na­tional fash­ion trend when she wore them to her hus­band’s in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1989.

The pearls be­came syn­ony­mous with Bush, who later said she se­lected them to hide the wrin­kles in her neck. The can­did ad­mis­sion only bol­stered her com­mon sense and down-to-earth pub­lic im­age.

Her 93-year-old hus­band, the na­tion’s 41st pres­i­dent who served from 1989 to 1993, also has had health is­sues in re­cent years. In April 2017, he was hos­pi­talised in Hous­ton for two weeks for a mild case of pneu­mo­nia and chronic bron­chi­tis. He was hos­pi­talised months ear­lier, also for pneu- mo­nia. He has a form of Parkin­son’s dis­ease and uses a mo­torised scooter or a wheel­chair for mo­bil­ity.

Be­fore be­ing pres­i­dent, he served as a con­gress­man, CIA di­rec­tor and Ron­ald Rea­gan’s vice pres­i­dent.

Bar­bara Pierce Bush was born on June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. Her father, Marvin Pierce, was the pub­lisher of McCall’s and Red­book mag­a­zines.

She and Ge­orge H W Bush mar­ried when she was 19 and while he was a young naval avi­a­tor. Af­ter World War II, the cou­ple moved to Texas where he went into the oil busi­ness.

Along with her mem­oirs, she’s the au­thor of C. Fred’s Story and Mil­lie’s Book, based on the lives of her dogs. Pro­ceeds from the books ben­e­fited adult and fam­ily lit­er­acy pro­grammes.

The Bar­bara Bush Foun­da­tion for Fam­ily Lit­er­acy be­gan dur­ing her White House years with the goal of im­prov­ing the lives of dis­ad­van­taged Amer­i­cans by boost­ing lit­er­acy among par­ents and their chil­dren.

The foun­da­tion part­ners with lo­cal pro­grammes and has awarded more than US$40 mil­lion (NZ$54.4m) to cre­ate or ex­pand more than 1500 lit­er­acy pro­gramme across the US. – AP

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