Barbara Bush's Unsent Last Letter to Her Children before Her Death

Junie Sihlangu
May 14, 2019
02:19 P.M.
Share this pen

Last month, Susan Page's book on the late former First Lady Barbara Bush was published. The book is titled: “The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty.”


According to Page, the former first lady began writing a letter to her children before her death last year. However, she never had the chance to send it to finish it or send it to them.

In the last months of her life, former first lady Barbara Pierce Bush, 92, fell and broke her back causing her to be sent to the Houston Methodist Hospital. She also started losing her battle with congestive heart failure, while suffering from other ailments.


Bush had a candid conversation with her doctor and ended up going home but this time for hospice care. She had kept a journal which she turned to at random times since moving to Texas with her husband, former President George H.W. Bush.

Seven decades after the move, she decided to leave a note for her children on a laptop while at the hospital. She titled this entry: “Things I am grateful for.”


According to authoress Susan Page, she started: “Dearest Children, I have thought of writing this for a while.” The authoress was the first person who read the letter because Bush a few weeks before she started drafting it she’d given Page access to her diaries for the biography.

Even Bush’s children weren’t aware of it. After her death on April 17, an aide in Houston printed out the final year of entries from Bush’s laptop giving the authoress access.


The letter continued: “Needless to say I am most thankful for five men and one lady.” Here she referenced her husband of 73 years, their four sons, George W., Jeb, Neil, and Marvin; and their daughter, Doro.

Then she shared her appreciation for both her parents and her husband’s parents. Bush added: “My dad was the finest brightest man,” noting “Although Neil and George got my dad’s hair (or growing lack of hair).”


Comparing her brothers to her sons she said: “Jeb and Marvin are true Bushes with height and hair.” The letter read: “I am so grateful that our children and grand children [sic] all finished school and promptly went to work.”

Praising them she wrote: “They did not feel entitled. They and their children support themselves and are now doing good works along with working in some cases.” The former first lady also noted, “the Saintly Stitchers who meet on Mondays at Saint Martins [Episcopal] Church.”


She acknowledged how “They treat me as a normal person although they do spoil me.” Bush also shared how “We stitch kneelers for the church, I did two and then my eyes got bad and now I work on Santas and Clowns that either sit on a shelf.”

Bush also noted her “many friends,” including the 1925 Club. The club was a group of women all born in that year, except for one member for whom they made an exception for.


She wrote: “Members are Ada Gandy [Grundy] although she was born in 1924 and is deaf that she will interrupt as though she is...” However, she never finished the letter and stopped mid-sentence.

According to Page, this probably happened because she was “perhaps interrupted when a visitor walked into her hospital room.” Bush passed away after refusing to receive further medical treatment.

She had also suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Her husband’s office confirmed her death in a statement saying: “A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.”

The statement continued:

“She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H. W. Bush; five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren; and her brother Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline “Robin” Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.”