Barbara Bush had spent an hour talking about legacy and family — about the Christmas dance where she met the man who’d become her husband, about being “the enforcer” of a family that included two former U.S. presidents.
Then, in a flash, she was talking about death.
It was 2013 and Bush was 88 at the time of the interview, part of a C-Span series focusing on first ladies. She wore a pink blazer and her trademark faux pearls — and spoke with a mixture of grace and bluntness that her family and the American people had come to instantly recognize over the past four decades.
“I’m a huge believer in a loving God,” she said. “And I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darned close.
“And I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself because I know that there is a great God.”
She said she looked forward to being reunited with deceased family members, including her daughter Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush, who died of leukemia at the age of 3. Barbara Bush was Episcopalian, and she and her husband, former president George H.W. Bush, regularly attended St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.
On Tuesday, half a decade after that interview, Barbara Bush died. She was 92 and had been hospitalized after a lengthy battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.
Two days before she died, her family announced she had decided not to seek additional medical treatment.
As The Washington Post’s Lois Romano wrote, Bush “consistently ranked among the nation’s most-admired women, with high poll numbers that contrasted with her husband’s tumbling ratings. During the 1992 election, she was often deployed by the Bush campaign as a surrogate to humanize a president not known for charisma or the common touch.”
Even in the 2013 interview she took pains not to sound too sanctimonious.
“That sounds so arrogant,” she said, turning away from the interviewer. “I’m a big shot. I have a faith in God. I do have a faith in God. And I don’t question it. I have no fear of death. And I think that’s very comforting.”