Facing death is not easy, but some people are able to deal with mortality with more grace than others.
Barbara Bush may have been one of them. Over her 92 years on earth, the former first lady experienced love, war, tragedy and success, and was surrounded in her final days by a family that even critics admit is close-knit and authentic.
America knows Jeb Bush as the former governor of Florida and the brother who was often in George W. Bush’s shadow. To Barbara, he was simply her second son… and he recalled several touching words about his mother at her funeral.
One of the anecdotes shared by Jeb Bush involved his father, the 41st president of the United States.
“The last time my mom went into the hospital, I think dad got sick on purpose so he could be with her. That is my theory,” Bush said.
“Literally, a day later, he showed up with an illness. He came into her room and when she was sleeping, held her hand. His hair was standing straight up. He had on a mask to improve his breathing,” the former governor explained. “He was wearing a hospital gown. In other words, he looked like hell.”
Bush summarized his parents’ long-lasting romance in one sentence. “Mom opened her eyes and said, ‘My, God, George. You are devastatingly handsome.'”
His next story was less humorous, but perhaps much more powerful.
“The last time I was with her I asked her about dying, was she ready to go?” Bush said. “Was she sad?
“Awithout missing a beat (she replied), ‘I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I do not want to leave your dad but I know I will be in a beautiful place.'”
The memory was an important example of how faith can bring calm and clarity to even the most dire situations. Barbara Bush was a smart and practical woman. She and her family knew that as her health declined, it was only a matter of time before she passed away.
Instead of facing that moment with fear, Bush was able to rely on her Christian faith to serve as a well of tranquility.
This is what many people who mock conservatism and religion fail to recognize: Faith and prayer are powerful habits, even if a person isn’t exactly a model saint.
“The overwhelming majority of scientific studies highlight the positive health benefits of faith, including protection from illness, coping with illness, and faster recovery from it,” according to research published by The Telegraph.
“(Researchers) highlighted one study which showed regular churchgoers had life expectancy up to 14 years longer than those who did not attend services,” the newspaper continued. “Health benefits include an increased sense of well-being, hope and optimism; lower rates of depression and suicide; less loneliness and less alcohol and drug abuse.”
Bush may be a good example of faith in action. Living beyond 90 is a accomplishment for anyone, but her life is even more impressive when you look at the huge range of experiences, challenges and stresses she and her family faced over the years.
Throughout it all, Bush’s marriage and her faith stayed strong. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, that’s something we can all learn from.
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