tv The Presidency Barbara Bush As Her Grandchildren Remember Her CSPAN November 1, 2018 11:30pm-12:19am EDT
barbara bush's grandchildren remember her in this discussion led by cokie roberts. she is only the second woman in history to be married to one american president and be married -- and be the mother of another. i work coverage of this event began right after the audience showed a short video tribute. >> i come from a family of strong women, including my mother-in-law our bush. as that video showed, barbara bush led our country and the bush family with grace and quick wit. when she died we celebrated her life with a memorial service in houston. then we drove to college station to the bush library. on our drive, thousands of people lined the streets and
waved flags. those texas men took off their cowboy hats and placed them over their hearts. when we reached the burial site and the bush presidential library, we will -- were welcomed by 700 saluting texas a&m cadets. it was a lovely tribute to a remarkable woman. president george hw bush is doing fine. he is in maine. he mrs. barr. i will have to say that maine is a light -- a lot quieter without her. he is in good spirits. he will head back to houston in october. george and i believe his parents have shown us how to age with grace. in may, bar walked her dogs on the beach every day, twice a day. early in the morning , and late in the afternoon is when dogs are allowed on the beach. she would walk her dogs both times. then she began to use her
walker. last summer she could not walk on the beach, so she wildly drove the golf cart with her dogs running behind her for exercise. bar once said -- for heaven sake, enjoy life. don't cry over things that were or things that aren't. enjoy what you have to the fullest. from george's parents we learned that all we know we have is now. take advantage of your life as it is and walk on the beach every chance you get. now we are going to get to hear from five of barbara bush's grandchildren. we will reflect on how their lives have been shaped by the lessons there ganny taught them. i am happy to introduce ellie leblond sosa. i hope ellie is going to come out. [ laughter ] is she coming? [ laughter ] ellie -- ellie's
first. [ laughter ] [ applause ] ellie works for a healthcare nonprofit. she recently wrote a book, "george and barbara bush: a great american love story". you can buy a signed copy outside the auditorium after the program. pierce bush. pierce is neil's son. he lives in houston and he is the ceo of big brothers big sisters lone star. [ applause ] jeb bush, jr., son of governor jeb bush serves as managing partner of jeb bush and associates. he serves on a number of nonprofit boards and lives in florida. [ applause ] and then we have
our two daughters. barbara bush is the cofounder and board chairman of global health corps. [ applause ] jenna bush hager is a correspondent with nbc's "the today show". as george says, she is continuing the bush family tradition of warm relations with the media. [ laughter ] they are joined by our moderator, cokie roberts. please join me in welcoming them to the stage. [ applause ] >> we fit, which is a surprise. >> well, we shared a womb. >> yes. case at your grandmother -- >> at your grandmother's funeral, in your dad's eulogy
he said she spoke -- struck fear in the heart of her grandchildren. i am sure you all have stories that we want to hear. i will start with you barbara because you and jenna have written some of these stories in "sisters first". tell us the story of being in the bowling alley of the white house when you were seven years old. >> it might have been implied earlier, on the earlier panel, but we are called our grandma ganny, or we called her the enforcer because she was the enforcer in our household. when my grandfather first become president we all went to the inauguration. we were so excited. we were about to move in the white house. we did not know what it would
be like, but when you are seven you thought it would be magical. we had heard there was -- would be a bowling alley. we went into the bowling alley. we were having a blast. there was a phone on the wall. so, we picked it up. we do not know what we were doing on the phone. we picked it up and ordered two grilled cheese images. >> peanut butter and jelly. >> oh, peanut butter and jelly. >> we are both really jetlagged , so our details are off. >> we are so excited. what is a white house peanut butter and jelly sandwich going to take -- taste like? we continue bowling. we sit here -- we hear footsteps coming to the door. it is our grandmother. she is not happy. she gets mad at us and tells us that this is a home. it is a borrowed home and not a hotel. and we will never order ever again.
>> did any of you ever order things? >> no. [ laughter ] >> i feel like we suffered and then it was a legend that spread. >> we came up crying. and hungry. >> and that we never knew what it was going to taste like. >> but, it did not stop when you were children. you also write in the book, jenna, about a tennis game in tran20 for. >> we still got reprimanded. barbara and i spoke to our ganny on the sunday before she passed away. we live jik -- live four blocks away from her new york. we all cry. you will see, if you do your job right. we both burst into tears. i think she could tell that we
were weepy. she said, girls, don't worry. she said -- stop believing everything you are reading. they are making it sound like i am going to die any minute now. it was funny, but it was also -- and maybe this was me reading into it as her grandmother -- her trying to comfort us. >> right. >> her trying to make sure that we did not weep on the phone with her in our last conversation. she said don't believe everything they say. meanwhile, she is the one who said she is getting off comfort care. yes, when i was in my 30s i was reprimanded by my grandmother. i had just had a baby and we had a tennis tournament going on in kennebunkport. my tennis had suffered and i could blame it on my baby. but, i have never been a great tennis pro. we were playing. i was actually playing with a tennis pro because i set up the tournament, and i wanted to
win. when i was not hitting great strokes, or whatever you call them [ laughter ], i would make some sort of adjusters -- jesters dust -- gestures, i did the worm. that was impressive because i had had a c-section. my grandmother did not like it. she did not say anything. i got home. my children started preschool, so that shows you the age of me. i get a letter in the mail. it is addressed to jenna and george. >> right. >> my dad likes the things like the worm. [ laughter ] dad was on the sideline saying -- that's my
girl. [ laughter ] he likes the behavior. she was mad. i cried. my husband came home from work and he was like -- what is wrong? my grandmother is very mad. he asked why. and i said because of that tennis tournament a month ago. he barely remembered it. i called my dad in tears. he had gotten the same letter. he just said, oh come on. i have already thrown it away. [ laughter ]. the ps said -- don't show it to anybody. i decided to publish it in my book. >> that is the journalistic instinct. >> she did not like it because our grandfather was raised to be a good sportsman. i think she thought -- even though i think he probably
thought it was funny -- i think she was embarrassed because she would have thought that his mother -- who was a really good tennis player, that is the difference. >> his mother was lovely. she was very athletic so i do not think she would have needed to do the worm. >> what about the rest of you, times when your grandmother just came down on you? >> why me? well, yes. i'll be the one to take this. i always felt like ganny would take on people she felt like to take it, first of all. as was said in the original panel, she was the great defender of her family to other people in the public. but, man, she would let you have it. left back one time, -- [
laughter ] one time i had just graduated from college. i went to the university of texas. maybe there are some of you people here. one? i did not really know what i was going to do with life. my grandmother hated idleness. so graduating and having too much of a knowing was not a good thing according to her. the third thing to add to what i am about to bring up, i had wrecked my grandfather's boat the day before. that was a pretty serious offense and our family. it was not really my fault. [ laughter ]. i feel like my
grandmother is looking down on me and saying -- nobody likes excuses. it happened that i was the man at the helm as it was sitting on rocks. the next day, trying to do what i thought was a good deed, i took my cousin robert, ellie's brother to a movie and dairy queen. i get a call from my dad and he says, peers, where are you. ganny has noticed that the smart car is missing. she thinks you might be driving her smart car. there was a rule in our family, you could take tran20 to's smart car, but you had to ask permission. -- ganny's mark are, but you had to ask permission. long story short, i show up at the big house. >> so your dad got a call from his mother saying -- where is my car? >> my dad is the happiest the
lucky guy. in his voice, there was almost joy, knowing what i was about to see. [ laughter ] anyways, i show what. there is this nice couple from houston who i have never met. in front of these guests, she just scolds me to the point where i was in tears. [ laughter ] i think i was 22. look, i will say this -- >> you had wrecked the boat the day before. >> that was a pretty big deal. he handled his anger in a different way. here's the truth about my grandparents. every single one of my cousins is doing something, in some small way, that is bigger than
their own career, their own financial success. there's nothing wrong with making money by any means, but our grandmother never let us take the fact that our grandparents were president for granted. she said we might grow up in this unique set of circumstances, but we should use that to better the lives of others. there is not one time that i can think of -- >> don't mention it, if you can. >> okay. it is light, she is like that strong sicilian grandmother that all of her kids and grandkids are better because of it. >> you have said, because i was trying to learn more about you boys. i know more about the girls. this forced me to go to twitter. which i don't like to do
because there are other people on twitter. >> who's that? >> but, you did say at some point, pierce, that she said that you can't really have a successful life unless you serve other people. >> yes. she embodied that. it was through some of the tough love lessons we got. she was the embodiment of love, but her love came in a way of knowing that you could do something great with your life. as it pertains to us, and i assume my uncle and others, she was passionate about us not living idle lives. not taking positions for granted, and doing something that matters. >> jeb -- >> i had a little streak of being a raiser at times. when they finish serving in the way.-- when they serve --
finished serving in the white house, it was when my parents were getting into politics. i was very fortunate. i got to spend every summer up in kennebunkport for 10 years. >> we would go in the summer, but he would go all summer. >> i would work up there. she would certainly chew our butts from time to time. she kept everyone in line. she kept us all in order. 2021 grandkids, all the guests -- between the 21 grandkids, all the guests. those are lessons she taught us. >> ellie, you have had the great joy in the last period of your grandmother's life of writing this book about their love life. look at this wonderful book. do we know who the baby is was being christened in that
picture? >> is that ashley? >> i think it is ashley. >> that is my sister ashley. >> ellie, writing this book must have been really special. >> it was incredibly special. i remember, when i was first thinking about writing it, i knew i needed to talk to two people before it went forward. one was my mom. i talked to her first. she was supportive and excited. but she said, you have to talk to ganny. we both knew my grandmother had to be on board in order for this to work. i will never forget, i went in to talk to her. he was in maine. she was in her bedroom in maine and i dropped the bomb on her. i said i was thinking about writing a book. she said -- you? i said, yes. and i told her that i thought
it was going to be about her and grandpa and the love story. she said -- why would you want to write a book about that? it sounds so boring. >> i told her that their love story is so billed -- unbelievable. she ended up being totally onboard. we interviewed her several times. it was really special. just about 10 days before she passed away, my mom was with her in the hospital. we had planned to do some sort of interview with her. i texted by mom and said -- don't worry about it. she was not doing well. let's not worry about it. my mom called me and says -- ganny is on the line. she wants to do it. i have a co-author for my book. i got my co-author on the phone. i told her my grandmother was on the line. the last time i talked to her
with about 10 days before she passed away. she was still as funny and sharp as ever. at one point i said -- ganny, was there anything in your life that you regret ? she said -- well, i would have been thinner, smarter, prettier, funnier. and then she said -- no, seriously. you will not meet anyone any happier in the world. just to be able to hear those words from her during the last time that i talked to her was really special. >> she also seems to inspire you all to love books. jenna, you wrote -- i am going to miss sharing books with her. >> she did. it was a little bit, when we were younger and we would go visit. i think that was the moment that andy reference. we lived in midland, texas. our grandparents were the vice
president and the vice president's wife in dc. we did not get to see them as much or as little toddlers. we lived next to my mom's parents. we did not really know our other grandparents as well. i think that is the moment that they came to midland. am i right, mom? we love to read. our whole family does. the first thing i said to my dad when i landed today was -- i just finished a great book. i think she was the one who inspired that in all of us. i think it was because she was and adventurer. i can't even imagine being a young mother and moving away from everybody that i knew. >> also, to a place that was very -- >> also, away from everything i know. moving from greenwich, connecticut to midland, texas, where that picture was taken.
luckily she did that, so here we are. >> here we are. [ laughter ] >> i think doing that as a young mom. my grandfather traveled quite a lot. and, to lose a daughter. i am in a similar stage of life as she is in that moment. i can't imagine not having a support system. even though i don't live close to my parents either. they come to visit, but they are not that helpful anyway. [ laughter ] backup that is so rude. >> i mean they are helpful -- >> that is so rude. >> they love them, but they don't change a diaper. >> no. >> it is remarkable to know what kind of a maverick and and adventurer she was. i think that goes with reading.
i think there is no better adventure than to lose yourself in a book. she did annoy us when we were little and kept asking us if we spinach -- if we finished our summer reading everyday. it was annoying to know we had work left to do. >> neil, i noticed you were on tv recently -- i mean pierce . >> i look like him. >> which, by the way, my grandmother would be very upset. three days before she died she said -- you have got to shave that beard. i was actually in maine this weekend visiting my grandfather. i did not have time to cut it. i feel so bad about that. >> you were going on to talk about books. did you include pride and prejudice.
>> did i clear that? >> her favorite book. >> we never talk about her favorite books. she would force me as a kid to read out loud to her, to make sure i was doing my summer read it. she would be yelling from downstairs, have you done your summer reading? and we were like -- no. >> we are working on it. >> yes, ma'am. back of the other thing you all have talked about is her being the glue -- >> the other thing you have talked about is her being the glue that held everyone together. it is kind of important now that the glue still sticks. so, what are you guys doing? >> this is the question. she is trying to get is, you are. >> i think going to maine was very sad because, not only was
she the glue that held us together. she also had such a huge presence. she was up early. to wake up and not see her in the little screened in porch where she woke up, first of all, was said. something else? >> up in kennebunkport there is a room, two couches, tb. the last couple of years -- tv. the last couple of years she watched a little less news, probably. but she would be in their writing letters, checking in with people all over the world. people would come in and out to grab a piece of -- a cup of coffee. she would ask was on the dance card for the day. it was time in the morning where we got to spend 30 minutes or in -- an hour with
her. she would not hold back her opinion. it was a special time. >> it is quieter without her. we all went to maine this summer. i said to him -- it is so quiet without ganny. he looked at me and he goes -- are you trying to tell me that she talked too much? [ laughter ] we miss her. it is quieter. >> i think it is because she included him. one of the odd things about having a public figure as someone you love, and i wonder if you agree, is that i was alone, my family was here for this. henry, we joked that he is the jared kushner because he joined the board. just kidding. [ laughter ] we were not invited to join the board.
>> we were not invited. he really is the jared kushner. we do not know who ivanka is yet. is that you? >> i have not been invited. i was alone. it is very interesting. it is something we all have to get used to, to have someone you know and love so much, spoken about by people, some of who do know her, but some are political figures. it hurt when i was alone. who is this person that i don't even know. it made me mad. i did not have anybody to really get mad with. my husband was already here. and then, as the weeks go by, people will come up and say -- i loved your grandmother. so, it is hard at first and then it is a beautiful thing. i have had friends lose people they love, and then life continues.
that is an interesting thing. i don't know why i brought that up? >> it is true. people don't necessarily talk to me all the time about my grandparents because i am one of the people who do not have the last name bush. i can get by without people knowing. but, after my grandmother passed away, the amount of people -- and all of us have the same thing a people who reached out and told us how are grandmother touch them. >> it kind of cushions you with love, to have people do that. it really is special. >> we learned so much more about her that we would not have known when we were younger. i have received email for people who were kids at the home when she was there. that said, i hope you know this, i have never told you this, but your grandmother taught us, taught the world
that we were fighting a disease. we were not fighting people. >> was that part of your inspiration for starting the global health corps? >> yes and no. i actually got to know a lot more about my grandmother's experience in working in aids well afterwards. we were so little been. we were probably five years old. the year we were born was the year aids was discovered. i will say that part of the reason i working global health is completely what pierce said. had never occurred to me to not work on something i thought i could solve or make a tiny little denton. i chose a little bit of a beast in global health, trying to make a dent in it. >> i think the thing -- barbara
wrote something really beautiful that will be in our new paperback version of "sisters first". >> it will be out later in october. >> she wrote something that moved me so much. she said that maine, this summer, felt -- ganny made us feel like we needed to be better. and that could mean, talk in our shirts, brush our hair. there was plenty of that. what is that bikini? >> and why did you pierce your bellybutton? you are not that skinny. >> that is so rude. [ laughter ] >> don't highlight your problem areas, you know? >> why should you highlight your problem areas? she was right. >> that was intimidating, as
teenagers and little children. but, i think she made as debtor and i think this summer -- made us better, and i think this summer in maine, and some of us have little children. and now who is going to hold us up to the standard? and there wasn't anybody. >> i heard you went the wrong way on some of the roads in kennebunkport this summer. >> i did not do that. we said my dad needs to learn how to be the matriarch. [ laughter ] we were like, dad, that is not how a matriarch acts. >> ellie, you saw them going the wrong way on the roads. >> oh yes. >> the fork in the road? >> right. >> she has not driven a car since 1971. >> it has been a while, but i did not know.
>> see you did break the rules? >> unknowingly. >>, -- how about the taco sunday story? a cute story. for as long as i can remember, literally we had taco sunday every sunday. the whole family would get together in the big house. we would have tacos. i liked it. it was pretty good. i guess my grandmother led the charge and said every sunday we were going to do it. after church we are going to do our taco sunday. this year someone asked my grandfather if we were going to do our taco sunday. he said -- well, i don't really like tacos. [ laughter ] the poor guy has been holding it in for 76 years. backup burger and dog day, now. >> we will still do the taco sunday, but we will have hamburgers and hotdogs. >> i think -- and ellie can talk about it. he loved her just as much.
that it took until she passed away to say -- i would rather have a hamburger and a hotdog. he suffered years with tacos. >> and loved her so much that he would have a dog and bad that bit him. >> yes. back about dog, may he rest in peace. >> he is still alive. -- >> that dog, may he rest in peace. >> he is still alive. >> he had taxed. >> he bit our grandfather in the middle of the night. >> what ganny would say is -- you provoked him. even to her firstborn. >> ellie, when you were doing the book, did she actually talked about the love story? >> she did. it was hard to get her to talk
because she does not like talking about herself. i managed to get it out of her. i think a big part of their love story that we found, and through my expense watching them, is humor. i am saying this because i want to tell his story. it may be inappropriate. but i want to try it. okay, we are good. a few years ago my mom got a gift for her birthday. it was a machine [ laughter ] >> it was a what? >> a machine [ laughter ] is is okay? i don't know. it's a little machine. you hide it under someone's
chair. someone else has a remote control and presses the button. my mom, when she got it she thought ganny would love this. we brought it over to dinner. we gave it to my grandfather. this was two years ago. there is a big table with all my cousins sitting at the dinner table. we are all laughing. we are thinking it's so funny because we are so immature. dinner goes on any puts the machine away we forget about it. we have dinner and dessert, because we have dessert with every meal. and then at the end of dinner, ganny announces that she is going to bed and said good night to everyone. she gets up, she has her walker and is walking down the table and say good night. just as she gets to my grandfather, he presses the button. it goes off. the timing was perfect. . we had forgotten all about it. she rolled her eyes and said --
grow up, george. [ laughter ] that was a classic example. she did not think it was funny. >> she did love to laugh. i think when everybody was laughing at something that immature she was like [ scoffs ] . >> you also tell a wonderful story, ellie, about going to the library and going through her scrapbooks. >> we taking pictures
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