Elise Cooper for BLACKFIVE
Former First Lady Laura Bush has written her memoirs, Spoken from the Heart. In the book Mrs. Bush re-tells her remarkable life from her upbringing in West Texas to her historic years in the White House. She provides insights about the First Family’s life in the White House; her opinions on world issues during the Bush Administration, and the causes she advocates, women’s rights, human rights, and achieving literacy.
The book is an interesting read. Mrs. Bush opens up and gives the reader a glimpse into her life and feelings. Some of the most memorable moments in the book are her intimate, powerful recollections. She talks about the tragic car accident, having to deal with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease, her feelings as she toured the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, and her memories of the catastrophic events following 9/11.
Regarding her visit to Auschwitz she powerfully noted that “As I walked, I realized there are things that textbooks, photographs, or even graying documentary footage cannot teach. They cannot teach you how to feel…There was the larger blindness of the people who lived around the camps and around the world, of all those who refused to see what was happening.”
Her father succumbed to Alzheimer’s and for the reader she vividly describes what the feelings a family member must endure. She notes that “Looking back now, I see other things I wish we had done…Alzheimer’s and dementia more broadly are called ‘the long good-bye,’ but to my mind, they are the sad good-bye. So often, as with our family, we don’t say good-bye when we can. We don’t recognize that moment when the person we love still knows enough, still comprehends enough to hear our words and to answer them. We miss that moment, and it never comes again.”
While reading her description of the Yankees game where President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch the reader reverts back to the patriotic, tense days where all Americans were unified shortly after 9/11. She reminds the reader in her description that “I heard the chants of ‘USA, USA, USA’ but inside my heart was racing, my hands were cold.”
It is obvious how strongly she feels about women’s rights and her willingness to be the champion of that cause. What is very impressive is how she was willing to say “Freedom, especially freedom for women, is more than the absence of oppression. It’s the right to speak and vote and worship freely. Human rights require the rights of women. And human rights are empty promises without human liberty,” Even more striking is the fact that she had the guts to deliver these comments in Jordan, where there were a number of representatives from other Muslim countries considering many women in the Islamic society are oppressed.
This memoir is very well written and her comments give the reader an insightful understanding of what her life was like during one of the most historic events in America’s history. It is obvious that the reader gets a feeling of her impressions, concerns, and philosophy regarding her life.