My Mom’s twin died Tuesday. Her name was Barbara Bush.
OK, they weren’t really twins. But they were born on the exact same date in the exact same year: June 8, 1925.
And while, on the one hand, they were from very different worlds, the more I reflect, the more they had in common.
Over the past week, especially, in the days surrounding Barbara Bush’s death, I thought a lot about her. And my mom, Starlene.
The big difference is the fact that Barbara outlived my mother by 36 years; Barbara died at 92; Mom was just 56.
But beyond that, there are some clear similarities.
For one thing, both of them could instantly charm a room — and just as quickly cut through the BS with a single swipe of their sharp (yet impressively witty) tongues.
My teenage friends never tried to put one over on Starlene. And they loved coming to our house. To see her, I always suspected.
Both women cut short their formal educations. In Barbara’s case, she left college after two years to marry George H.W. Mom dropped out of high school her senior year to go to work and help support the family.
Yet while they weren’t at desks in classrooms, both of them were avid readers, lifelong learners and very smart ladies who instilled a love of knowledge in their children.
Both of them waged battles against deep depression. Barbara’s came after the leukemia death of her 3-year-old daughter and then again in the mid-1970’s after one of many moves she and H.W. made.
My mother’s set in soon after I was born, a postpartum experience so severe that she went through electroshock therapy at Taunton State Hospital.
I strongly suspect she had other episodes of depression later in her life, but like Barbara in the 1970s, she didn’t seek any treatment.
They just soldiered on.
But I don’t want this to be a downer; neither Mom nor Barbara would like that, I’m sure. I definitely wouldn't want them to scold me. So I want to point out they shared other less sobering likenesses.
Both of them went gray by the time they hit their 30s. Mom colored her hair for decades but came to hate doing it. Barbara never did. I’ve opted to stay gray and I know my mother would approve.
And, finally, both of them loved pearls. Barbara was rarely seen without hers, no matter what she was wearing. Mom usually reserved them for dressy occasions and she had more than a dozen strands, some single, some double, one even triple.
I know that because after my mother died, I inherited them. They make their home in a satin-lined jewelry box that Mom gave me.
I haven’t worn them for a while, but I have a funny feeling I’m going to be in the mood for pearls. Very soon.