“She never dyed her hair and she didn’t want to dye her hair,” said Perino on a new episode of Fox Nation’s “Dana Perino’s Book Club.”
“And even in the media, where they’d say, ‘Why doesn’t she do this?’ and she had the support of her husband and she just wanted to be herself.”
Perino sat down with Jean Becker, editor of “Pearls of Wisdom: Little Pieces of Advice (That Go a Long Way),” which is a collection of Barbara Bush’s wisdom and advice.
Some of Bush’s teachings and beliefs are shared through the stories of her children, grandchildren, friends and aides. Others are taken from letters she wrote and speeches she delivered.
“She was sort of embarrassed that people thought she was like a wise, senior stateswoman,” said Becker, who served as Barbara Bush’s deputy press secretary from 1989 to 1992 and chief of staff to former President George H.W. Bush after he left the White House.
Though, Becker pointed out, Barbara Bush had a confidence and belief in herself borne from life experience.
“She had this line, ‘I survived six children, two World Wars, two governors, two presidents, Election Day losses and Election Day wins, a book by Kitty Kelley and a husband that jumped out of perfectly good airplanes,'” recalled Becker. “And so she said, ‘Yeah, I do know some stuff. I know how to survive the ups and downs of life.'”
Among the hardships in Barbara Bush’s life was the death of her daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia at 3 years old.
“She said, ‘You have two choices in life. You can choose to like your life or choose to be whiny,'” continued Becker. “And she said, ‘Choose happy.’ I love that advice, but I also love she always said, ‘Don’t let others define you, be who you are, own who you are.'”
Perino said Barbara Bush’s advice to be true to yourself resonated with her, and Perino witnessed the former first lady practice those values in her decision not to change her appearance to satisfy other people.
Barbara Bush also demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the cause of literacy, which she viewed as a fundamental human right.
Becker recalled the story of Barbara Bush meeting a man named JT Pace, the 63-year-old son of a former sharecropper, during a televised event commemorating the Constitution.
Pace had recently become literate and he was scheduled to read the preamble to the Constitution on stage. Barbara Bush noticed that he was growing increasingly nervous backstage and she offered her help.
“She started reading together with him,” said Becker. “And then slowly but surely, she just quietly stepped back and he just took it from there.”
All the author’s proceeds from “Pearls of Wisdom,” will go to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
“It’s Barbara Bush’s book and if she were here she would give all the proceeds to her foundation, so we are,” concluded Becker.