What Barbara Bush Taught Us About Growing Old
As we’ve all heard, Barbara Bush, the fiercely loyal and beloved wife of former President, George H. W. Bush, passed away last week at the age of 92. However, she was much more than First Lady and the Bush family matriarch. During her life she brought mirth, love and literacy to millions. Her legacy will be remembered for generations to come. When we look at her remarkable life, we can learn quite a few things, especially about growing old – which we must say she did gracefully.
Cherish Time With Loved Ones
One thing we know about Barbara is that she cherished her family, friends and other loved ones. She knew the importance of spending time with the people she loved. She stood steadfast by her husband as they moved from place to place during his career. She knew that keeping her family together, under the same roof was important when her kids were young. As time passed and her children started their own families, she always made sure that time was spent with each of her five children, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She said, “Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.” We should remember these wise words as we grow old.
Never Stop Giving
Barbara had a charitable heart. During her time in the White House, she was an advocate for literacy. She championed the National Literacy Act that drew widespread attention to the cause. She started the Barbara Bush Foundation, which has raised more than $110 million. Even as she grew older, she knew her work wasn’t over. She remained deeply engaged and served as honorary chair until 2012. Her 90th birthday, in 2015, was commemorated with a new initiative to use technology to help with literacy. We would do well to take a page from her book! As we retire and grow old, we may find that we have more time on our hands – we’re sure Barbara would approve of charity to fill our days. She once said, “Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.”
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
We can learn a lot from Barbara on this topic. Those who were close to her describe her as unpretentious – a women who could enjoy takeout, wear fake pearls and walk her dog in a housecoat. As she grew older that didn’t change. She embraced aging and her iconic, all-white hair that came along with it, saying, “People who worry about their hair all the time, frankly, are boring.”
She was known for her smart, witty humor that would make you say, “Too true!” She knew that growing old should be enjoyed and often poked fun at the topic. She once joked, “Never ask anyone over 70 how they feel. They’ll tell you.” She was unapologetic about aging. “The pearls are to cover [neck] wrinkles, which they no longer do. You can’t wear pearls all over your face,” she once remarked in an interview. We should all take a cue from her on how to embrace the wisdom and grace of aging.
Serve As A Role Model
Barbara took her role in the public eye seriously. She believed in setting an example and being an encouragement to others. As we grow older, we will have more and more people who look up to us – they may be children, grandchildren or maybe even great-grandchildren.
Barbara Bush taught us to embrace getting older, even in a culture that may make us feel like we should be young forever. We have a feeling that, years from now, she will be remembered for her witty, relatable remarks and willingness to flaunt her age. As we grow older, let’s keep in mind all the wonderful life lessons Barbara Bush taught us.