The news has been filled these last few days with stories of two very different yet similar in some ways, women; the fugitive grandmother and Barbara Bush. I am struck by the stories of these famous women and think there are some messages from their lives that are important for us all.
Barbara Bush, known by many people as America’s grandmother, was the wife of one American President, George Bush 41, and the mother of another, George Bush 43. She died last week from natural causes at the age of 92. The stories of her life are inspiring. She was obviously admired by her family, who knew her well, and many Americans who never even met her. She was a fashion statement, with many women donning their pearls in honor of hers. Her favorite color was blue, and many who attended her public viewing were decked out in blue. Her white hair was as well-known as her pearls.
We do not know as much about the fugitive grandmother. What we do know is that she murdered her husband, fled to another area of the country, befriended a woman who was her look alike, and murdered her. She then used the murdered woman’s identity. She was captured in a restaurant in Texas last week.
The fugitive grandmother shared some resemblance to Barbara Bush, with white hair and an ample body shape. Another similarity between these two women is that they were grandmothers, and in the case of the fugitive, she still is. They were both feisty women in some ways, yet how the feistiness was expressed was quite different.
Barbara Bush was known as “The Enforcer,” a strong-willed woman who did not shy away from conflict yet did not seem to create it. The fugitive grandmother may have shied away from conflict too many times yet created it when she murdered two people, her husband and the woman whose identity she stole.
Barbara Bush died still married to her husband of more than 73 years, a man who expressed in one love letter to her that “You give me joy that few men know.” I think we can assume that the husband of the fugitive grandmother did not give her joy.
Comparing these two women may be a stretch. But there is at least one important lesson in doing so. The main lesson that can be found in studying the lives of these two women is the choices they made. Although I often focus on the “why” things are the way they are, including the “why” of choices, that is not my focus in this. I do not even know the “whys” of the lives of these women. But “how” they lived at least some of their lives is clear.
Not knowing any more about the fugitive grandmother’s life before she murdered her husband, we can only surmise that her life with him was unhappy. She may have been abused. She may have a mental illness. She may just be evil. We do not know and should not guess the “why.” I am not implying that the reasons do not matter, just that we do not have that information.
Nor do I know anything about Barbara Bush’s life before she married George Bush. It is likely safe to assume that she made a good choice when she married him, not because he would be president, but because, at least by all appearances, they had a good life together.
We make choices every day that either reflects to the world that we are good and honorable people or not. Why we do what we do is not always clear, but our actions are. Our actions are interpreted by many others in ways we never even know.
As adults, we are judged most by our actions, not our backgrounds. While evaluating the actions of Barbara Bush and the fugitive grandmother is timely and interesting, we should turn the mirror on ourselves.
It behooves us to evaluate our behavior and assure that our actions are worthy of being judged by others as good and honorable.
Rest in peace, Barbara Bush.