Grand­daugh­ter: Bar­bara Bush is ‘a fighter,’ in good spir­its

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - WEATHER - By Michael Graczyk

HOUS­TON » For­mer first lady Bar­bara Bush, who was re­ported in “fail­ing health” over the week­end, is in “great spir­its” and the fam­ily is grate­ful for “ev­ery­body’s prayers and thoughts,” her grand­daugh­ter said Mon­day.

Bush fam­ily spokesman Jim McGrath said in a news re­lease Sun­day that “Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has de­cided not to seek ad­di­tional med­i­cal treat­ment and will in­stead fo­cus on com­fort care” at home in Hous­ton fol­low­ing con­sul­ta­tions with her doc­tors and fam­ily.

McGrath did not elab­o­rate on the na­ture of Bush’s health prob­lems but on Mon­day said she’s suf­fered in re­cent years from con­ges­tive heart fail­ure and chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease. She also 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 hos­pi­tal­ized a year be­fore that for surgery on a per­fo­rated ul­cer.

Jenna Bush Hager, an an­chor on NBC’s “To­day” show, told the pro­gram Mon­day morn­ing that Bush is rest­ing com­fort­ably with fam­ily.

“She’s a fighter. She’s an en­forcer,” Hager said, us­ing the fam­ily’s nick­name for her grand­mother. “We’re grate­ful for her, for ev­ery­body’s prayers and thoughts, and just know the world is bet­ter be­cause she is in it.”

“We are grate­ful for her. She’s the best grandma any­body could have ever had ... or have,” she said.

Bush 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 Jan. 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, Mrs. Bush stood with her hus­band as their son Ge­orge W. was sworn in as the 43rd pres­i­dent.

Hager said the for­mer pres­i­dent “still says, ‘I love you Bar­bie’ ev­ery night,” de­scrib­ing their grand­par­ents’ close re­la­tion­ship as “re­mark­able.”

McGrath said Bush was con­cerned more for her fam­ily than her­self.

“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,” he said.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s press sec­re­tary, Sarah Huck­abee San­ders, said in a state­ment Sun­day evening that “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 triplestrand 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 color 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 hos­pi­tal­ized in Hous­ton for two weeks for a mild case of pneu­mo­nia and chronic bron­chi­tis. He was hos­pi­tal­ized months ear­lier, also for pneu­mo­nia. He has a form of Parkin­son’s dis­ease and uses a mo­tor­ized 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 June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. Her fa­ther 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 Bushes 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 pro­grams. 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 pro­grams and had awarded more than $40 mil­lion as of 2014 to cre­ate or ex­pand more than 1,500 lit­er­acy pro­grams na­tion­wide.

DAVID J. PHILLIP — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush and his wife Bar­bara Bush, left, speak be­fore a col­lege bas­ket­ball re­gional fi­nal game be­tween Gon­zaga and Duke, in the NCAA bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment in Hous­ton. A fam­ily spokesman said Sun­day that the...

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