I was but six years old when George and Barbara Bush entered the White House as President and First Lady. Apart from remembering that the Gulf War took place and that Yugoslavia was in crisis, my memories of world politics during this time are few. Therefore, I can offer little comment about that particular era from experience, but only observations from the impact decisions have had or a regurgitation of what I read from others. However, the death of Former First Lady Barbara Bush has given a nation reason to reflect on the role of the Bush family within the context of United States history.
Shortly before her death, the office of Former President Bush announced that the Former First Lady was forgoing ongoing medical treatment apart from general comfort care. This statement signaled to the world that death was imminent, which was shown to be correct when she died just a few days later. Upon that initial announcement, I immediately commented to my wife about one of the few things I could observe without any remembrance of her time as First Lady: 73 years of marriage is an incredible testimony.
Many years ago, Barbara Bush was quoted as saying she wanted to be remembered as a wife, mother, and grandmother. Each of those admirable roles is reflected in her marriage to George H.W. Bush. In fact, none of those roles could have come apart from that marriage and demonstrate God’s perfect design of family. So, the legacy she leaves behind is one that began at the age of 16 when she first met the future President and was consummated a short while later only to continue another 73 years.
73 years is hard to comprehend. This is the longest marriage of any president, and certainly longer than most others. Admittedly, the longevity of life contributed to the profundity of this number and it is not often that one person in a marriage reaches that age, let alone both. Therefore, many people do not have the opportunity. Yet, considering that so many marriages fail to last ten years, if they marry at all, lack of opportunity is hardly an excuse. The Bush marriage is significantly counter-cultural to our modern mindset which not only denies the sanctity of marriage but often denies the necessity of marriage at all.
I am under the understanding that during his presidency, the Bush family sometimes engaged in actions that actually undermine the sanctity of marriage. Truthfully, I know little of it and cannot comment, but only want to acknowledge that some may consider it odd of me to utilize them as an example when they may have undermined marriage. However, it is interesting that while those actions may undermine biblical marriage, their very own marriage seemed to affirm it. If there is a testimony here, it is that we can see the joy that comes from a marriage that is lived out according to God’s plan. There must have been difficult times, especially with the pressures that came from the public life they lived, yet they remained faithful to one another and in the end Former First Lady Barbara Bush is being remembered as a wife, mother, and grandmother, as the recent tributes are confirming.
Photo courtesy of The George Bush Presidential Library and Flickr.