Remembering A First Class First Lady, Barbara Bush

Remembering A First Class First Lady, Barbara Bushimage preview

We are all sad to hear of the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush. I was lucky enough to have met her and would like to share this story to show just how gracious and lovely she truly was.

Years ago, I had an employee whose wife, Barbara V., lived in Florida and just adored Barbara Bush. Maybe because they shared the same first name, or maybe Mrs. Bush just had the power admiration over people. Barbara V. would brag about how the Barbs would have lunch, talk, etc. It was all a fantasy, I was sure, but I’d play along because it was part of the joy of knowing her.

In 1990 Barbara V. was diagnosed with cancer—stage 4. By early February 1992, I was told that she had a matter of days to live, if that.

A couple of weeks later, I was honored with a 618th Point of Light award and attended a ceremony in Nashua, New Hampshire, where I would meet President and Mrs. Bush. It was an icy cold Saturday in February, the weekend before the primary. My brother Gene and his son, Jeff, joined me for this honor, and we were thrilled to be able to meet the Bushes. After we exchanged pleasantries about my award, I whipped out the get well card for Barbara V. and asked Mrs. Bush if she would sign it for her #1 fan. George also penned a few words. It was an honor to be recognized and even more exciting to have this handwritten message of hope for my friend.

The card was mailed overnight and, of course, Barbara V. was weak but beyond grateful.

Fast forward two years later and I met Mrs. Bush at a literacy event in Maine—Mrs. Bush left her mark in Maine with a foundation that recognized literacy and medical care for children. I reminded her of the get well card she signed for Barbara V., to which she exclaimed, “don’t tell me I cured her!” I shook my head no, but she lived a full year longer, and that’s the best any human can do.

I will always cherish my meeting with Mrs. Bush, her sense of humor, and all she did to instill values in America.

Photo of Mrs. Bush courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: Barbara_Bush_portrait_1992.jpg

Peter Geiger is the Editor of the Farmers' Almanac. Read his full biography.

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