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UPDATE: Barbara Bush ‘In Great Spirits’ And Resting Comfortably, Granddaughter Says

Watch the former First Lady’s talking about her love for English literature and for PBS’ show ‘Downton Abbey’

 

  • Barbara Pierce, the future Barbara Bush, is shown in her graduation photo from Ashley Hall, a finishing school in Charleston, S.C., in 1943.  (AP Photo) (Photo Credit: AP)
    Barbara Pierce, the future Barbara Bush, is shown in her graduation photo from Ashley Hall, a finishing school in Charleston, S.C., in 1943. (AP Photo) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • FILE - In this 1964 file photo, George H.W. Bush sits on couch with his wife Barbara and their children. George W. Bush sits at right behind his mother. Behind couch are Neil and Jeb Bush. Sitting with parents are Dorothy and Marvin Bush.  Again? Really? There are more than 300 million people in America, yet the same two families keep popping up when it comes to picking a president. The possibility of a Bush-Clinton matchup in 2016 is increasingly plausible. After months of hints and speculation, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush last week said he's actively exploring a bid for the Republican nomination. And while Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn't revealed her intentions, she's seen as the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. By Nancy Benac. ? (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP)
    FILE - In this 1964 file photo, George H.W. Bush sits on couch with his wife Barbara and their children. George W. Bush sits at right behind his mother. Behind couch are Neil and Jeb Bush. Sitting with parents are Dorothy and Marvin Bush. Again? Really? There are more than 300 million people in America, yet the same two families keep popping up when it comes to picking a president. The possibility of a Bush-Clinton matchup in 2016 is increasingly plausible. After months of hints and speculation, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush last week said he's actively exploring a bid for the Republican nomination. And while Hillary Rodham Clinton hasn't revealed her intentions, she's seen as the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination. By Nancy Benac. ? (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • George Bush, candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, gets returns by phone at his headquarters in Houston, Saturday, June 6, 1964 as his wife Barbara, beams her pleasure at the news. Bush was leading his opponent Jack Cox in the run-off primary. Bush will face Sen. Ralph Yarborough (D-Tex) in the November general election if his lead holds and he is the winner. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky) (Photo Credit: AP)
    George Bush, candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, gets returns by phone at his headquarters in Houston, Saturday, June 6, 1964 as his wife Barbara, beams her pleasure at the news. Bush was leading his opponent Jack Cox in the run-off primary. Bush will face Sen. Ralph Yarborough (D-Tex) in the November general election if his lead holds and he is the winner. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • Republican Senatorial candidate George Bush shows a victory sign as he and his wife Barbara stand in front of a vote machine November 3, 1964 in Houston,Tex., just before casting their ballot.   The candidate waited an hour and a half in a long of votes that circled the Pilgrim Elementary School where the Bush's voted this morning. in Houston.    (AP Photo). (Photo Credit: AP)
    Republican Senatorial candidate George Bush shows a victory sign as he and his wife Barbara stand in front of a vote machine November 3, 1964 in Houston,Tex., just before casting their ballot. The candidate waited an hour and a half in a long of votes that circled the Pilgrim Elementary School where the Bush's voted this morning. in Houston. (AP Photo). (Photo Credit: AP)
  • President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, right, share a moment with Vice President and Mrs. George Bush following the oaths in the Capitol Building in Washington on Monday, Jan. 21, 1985. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty) (Photo Credit: AP)
    President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, right, share a moment with Vice President and Mrs. George Bush following the oaths in the Capitol Building in Washington on Monday, Jan. 21, 1985. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • George Bush beams as some of his family members applaud at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, May 1, 1979 where he formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. From left are: John E. (Jeb), a son; Columba, a daughter-in-law; Marvin, a son; Dorothy, a daughter; Mrs. Barbara Bush, his wife; and Bush. (AP Photo/Taylor) (Photo Credit: AP)
    George Bush beams as some of his family members applaud at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, May 1, 1979 where he formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. From left are: John E. (Jeb), a son; Columba, a daughter-in-law; Marvin, a son; Dorothy, a daughter; Mrs. Barbara Bush, his wife; and Bush. (AP Photo/Taylor) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • First lady Barbara Bush points towards the White House balcony where she was waiting for her husband as he returned home from a day trip from Columbia, S.C., Feb. 15, 1989 Bush addressed a joint session of the South Carolina state legislature. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi) (Photo Credit: AP)
    First lady Barbara Bush points towards the White House balcony where she was waiting for her husband as he returned home from a day trip from Columbia, S.C., Feb. 15, 1989 Bush addressed a joint session of the South Carolina state legislature. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi) (Photo Credit: AP)
  • First Lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog Millie in 1990. (Photo Credit: Doug Mills/AP)
    First Lady Barbara Bush poses with her dog Millie in 1990. (Photo Credit: Doug Mills/AP)
  • In this file photo from Friday, March 18, 2005, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to her son, President George W. Bush, as he speaks on Social Security reform in Orlando, Fla. The wife of former President George H.W. Bush is in "failing health," a Bush family spokesman said Sunday, April 15, 2018, following a recent series of hospitalizations and after consulting with her family and doctors, the 92-year-old former first lady has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file) (Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
    In this file photo from Friday, March 18, 2005, former first lady Barbara Bush listens to her son, President George W. Bush, as he speaks on Social Security reform in Orlando, Fla. The wife of former President George H.W. Bush is in "failing health," a Bush family spokesman said Sunday, April 15, 2018, following a recent series of hospitalizations and after consulting with her family and doctors, the 92-year-old former first lady has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file) (Photo Credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

 

The LATEST on former First Lady Barbara Bush:

 

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.

 

NBC's Today Show video image
Jenna Bush Hager, grandfather of former First Lady Barbara Bush, and daughter of former president George W. Bush, talks about her grandmother’s health on NBC’s Today Show, on April 16th, 2018

“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.”

 

A First Lady with her own style (and a love for Downton Abbey)

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 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.

Barbara Bush has also devoted much of her time to literacy programs and is a fan of the PBS’ show Downton Abbey. She held a conversation about the show years ago with Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse and explained why the story and characters resonated for her. Watch it below:

 

 

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.

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