WASHINGTON - Barbara Bush, the wife of one U.S. president and the mother of a second, is in failing health and has decided to seek "comfort care" rather than further medical treatment.
The office of her husband, former president George H.W. Bush, said Sunday the 92-year-old former first lady made the decision following a recent series of hospitalizations and after consulting with her family and doctors.
The statement did not specify what she has been treated for recently, but CNN reported she suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure. In years past she has been hospitalized for Graves' disease, a thyroid condition, and bronchitis, a respiratory ailment.
"It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself - thanks to her abiding faith - but for others," the statement said. "She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."
President Donald Trump's press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement Sunday evening that "the president's and first lady's prayers are with all of the Bush family during this time.'
Barbara Bush, often known for her outspoken remarks and self-deprecating wit, was the U.S. first lady from 1989 to 1993 when her husband was the country's 41st president. He is 93 years old and also has been in failing health in recent years.
Barbara Bush is the mother of former President George W. Bush, the country's 43rd president and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
She is one of only two first ladies who was also the mother of a president. The other was Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, the nation's second president, and mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president.
The Bushes married on Jan. 6, 1945. They had six children and have been married longer than any presidential couple in U.S. history.
While in the public eye, Barbara Bush was always a fierce advocate of her husband and children. As recently as 2016, she campaigned for her son Jeb, who was seeking the presidency of the United States.
As first lady, she made her main focus literacy and became involved in a number of reading organizations. She established the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy decades ago, promoting reading skills across America, particularly for young children.
She's known for her white hair and triple-strand fake pearl necklace.
Her brown hair began to gray in the 1950s, while her 3-year-old daughter Pauline, known to her family as Robin, underwent treatment for leukemia and eventually died in October 1953. Barbara Bush later said dyed hair didn't look good on her and credited the eventual all-white color to the public's perception of her as "everybody's grandmother.''
Her pearls sparked a national fashion trend when she wore them to her husband's inauguration in 1989. The pearls became synonymous with Bush, who later said she selected them to hide the wrinkles in her neck. The candid admission only bolstered her common sense and down-to-earth public image.
She was also known for her quick temper and sharp tongue.
Barbara Bush kept her sarcasm under wraps in public, though one noted slip came in 1984 when her husband was running for re-election as vice president with President Ronald Reagan. Their Democratic challengers, Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro, questioned whether wealthy people like the Bushes could relate to average Americans. An irritated Barbara Bush told a reporter that Ferraro was a “$4 million — I can’t say it — but it rhymes with rich.” Bush later said she meant “witch” and apologized. Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate representing a major U.S. political party, accepted the apology. She died in 2011.
Barbara Bush also came under intense criticism was for her remarks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The Bushes had toured relocation centers in Texas, where a number of victims had relocated. After the visit, the former first lady remarked that many of the poor people she had seen were faring better than before the storm hit.
"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in a radio interview. "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."
Barbara Pierce Bush was born June 8, 1925, in Rye, New York. Her father was the publisher of McCall's and Redbook magazines. Along with her memoirs, she is the author of C. Fred's Story and Millie's Book, based on the lives of her dogs.