TODAY

TODAY   |  May 05, 2010

Laura Bush reflects on lifetime of memories

Over limeade and with stacks of scrapbooks, Jenna Bush Hager interviews her mother and former first lady, Laura Bush, along with Jenna’s  twin sister Barbara, in Crawford, Texas.

Share This:

This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

ANN CURRY, anchor: Back now at 8:07 with the famously private former first lady Laura Bush , who is now opening up about her life in a candid new memoir called " Spoken from the Heart ." For the first time she's revealing intimate details about her life, from her upbringing in West Texas to her eight years in the White House . We'll speak with Laura Bush in just a moment. But first, our contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager has a few thoughts to weigh in this morning.

JENNA BUSH HAGER reporting: Yes.

CURRY: Jenna , good morning.

HAGER: Good morning. Some very serious thoughts. One of the best things about my mom's new book is that I have a permanent record of her life and all of her memories that we can share together. So I sat down with my sister, Barbara , over some Texas limeades to talk about what she writes about and, of course, to laugh.

Ms. LAURA BUSH: "Our lives in those years in Midland were centered on our family and our friends . Often Mother and Daddy would come for dinner. I would call mother late in the afternoon to see what she was cooking and we'd put our meals together around our little table.

HAGER: And now around our little table in Crawford , my mother , my sister Barbara and I spent a late afternoon reliving some of mom's memories as only a mother and her daughters can. So, Mom, one of my favorite things about your book is all of the great pictures. I think they're so much fun to look at. Look how angelic Mom looked right here.

Ms. BARBARA BUSH: She looks so cute.

HAGER: You look very cute. Were you -- would you say you were a very good child?

Ms. L. BUSH: I would say I was a very good child, a lot like you and Barbara .

HAGER: Or better than us?

Ms. L. BUSH: No, probably a lot like you and Barbara .

HAGER: And one question about this picture.

Ms. L. BUSH: Is why did I put it in the book?

HAGER: Yeah, what exactly motivated you? Those cat glasses are...

Ms. L. BUSH: This is probably when I was about 11, wearing these cat glasses and the poodle skirt . I had to put it in especially for the poodle skirt . It is a birthday party , as you can tell. That's my birthday photo.

HAGER: Did boys like you when you were 11?

Ms. L. BUSH: I don't think so, looking at that picture.

HAGER: How could you resist a face like that?

Ms. B. BUSH: Oh.

Ms. L. BUSH: This is a very funny photo. This is when we were campaigning with Gampy ...

Ms. B. BUSH: Look at your face.

Ms. L. BUSH: ...when he was running for president, and we were on our way to Kansas City and you pulled your tooth out on the plane .

HAGER: Barbara 's face is like, `Oh, she's at it again.' Were you scared of Ganny at first?

Ms. L. BUSH: She is slightly intimidating, there's no doubt about it . I write in the book that we didn't really bond until we'd been married probably 10 years, when we all moved to Washington to work on Gampy 's campaign. That was the first time we'd ever lived in the same town, Bar and I, and gave us a chance to really get to know each other.

HAGER: And then you...

Ms. L. BUSH: And I loved her because she loved Daddy ...

HAGER: Mm-hmm.

Ms. L. BUSH: ...so much.

HAGER: So here's a picture of something we know very well that Mom likes to do. Barbara , can you...

Ms. B. BUSH: Clean.

HAGER: ...describe mom's passion?

Ms. B. BUSH: Mom has a passion for everything clean and orderly.

HAGER: Do you remember when she used to wake us up on Saturday mornings, what the first thing she would say was?

Ms. B. BUSH: To get up and get organized?

HAGER: Girls , you get up and organize. You're going to feel so much better after you do so.

Ms. L. BUSH: But you don't know, this is the night of the 2000 election.

HAGER: So you were wildly stressed.

Ms. B. BUSH: You were cleaning.

Ms. L. BUSH: No, I was wildly cleaning.

HAGER: It's called stress cleaning.

Ms. L. BUSH: This is when...

Ms. B. BUSH: Comfort cleaning.

Ms. L. BUSH: This is when we thought we were going to know who had won that night , but we didn't find out for another 36 days. And this is upstairs in the governor's mansion. And so we're just waiting to hear, and so I started to load the dishwasher.

HAGER: Out of stress?

Ms. L. BUSH: Yes. There were a lot of dirty dishes.

HAGER: Well, how did you know you loved Dad ?

Ms. L. BUSH: I met Daddy on a blind date . Actually, Jan and Joey O'Neil invited us over to dinner in their backyard. It was just the four of us . What I loved best about him at the first was his sense of humor and how quick he is and funny he is and how much fun he is to be with, and so it seemed really meant to be .

HAGER: You guys got married three months later. Barbara and I have sometimes thought that was really fast. Did anybody say, ` Wow! That's'...

Ms. L. BUSH: The only people that were sort of worried were Jan and Joey , who were the ones that had fixed us up. They just thought we were moving maybe a little quickly. But you can tell from this picture how happy we were. OK, Jen , you ready?

HAGER: Yeah, let's go. More than 30 years later, my parents spend their happiest moments here in Crawford . Prairie Chapel Ranch , a place they jokingly call "the promised land ," is covered with picturesque canyons and an infinite Texas skyline. Here they once hosted more than a dozen world leaders . And it's a place of family , too. My mom and I decided to visit the part of the ranch we both love, a symbol of one of the happiest moments of my life.

Unidentified Man: Who presents the bride to be married this evening ?

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Her mother and I.

Man: Good answer.

Ms. L. BUSH: So this is the cross that was Daddy 's idea to bring in for your...

HAGER: Wedding.

Ms. L. BUSH: ...especially for the wedding and then to have here forever . So this is the spot where you got married .

HAGER: So this is it. Two years later. Seems like it was just yesterday.

Ms. L. BUSH: It does seem like it was just yesterday to your mother , too.

HAGER: I'll ask one more thing and then I'll let you go, because I know you have a very busy schedule . But where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ms. L. BUSH: Well, that's a good question for you to ask. I hope I see myself surrounded by grandchildren.

HAGER: Oh! Barbara?

Ms. L. BUSH: You just set yourself up, Jenna .

HAGER: For disaster . Do you think you'll retire at a -- here?

Ms. L. BUSH: I think we'll stay here a lot of the time, which I hope we will. And then we'll be busy, I hope, at the Bush Institute and the Bush Library . And so we'll be between Dallas and here at the ranch.

HAGER: Now, away from the pressures of the offices they held for eight years, my parents have returned to the home they love. They can now exhale and live.

Ms. L. BUSH: "I remember one summer evening working in the flower beds in our yard after the girls had gone to sleep , while the sun still hung low in the sky. George was sitting on the steps with the newspaper, and I thought to myself, ` This is the life .' And it was."

CURRY: Jenna , my goodness, what a great job you did.

HAGER: Well, she's a very easy interview.

Ms. L. BUSH: Well, you were a very easy interviewer.

CURRY: Yeah, except for that one question about whether -- what -- where you're going to see yourself in 10 years and those babies.

HAGER: Oh, yeah. I set myself up.

CURRY: But let me ask you to take off your reporters hat for a moment and put on your daughters hat...

HAGER: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: ...and ask you, because you've read the book...

HAGER: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: ...what was the most poignant moment for you? What did you learn about your mother that really touched your heart ?

HAGER: Well, it was really wonderful to read. She's a private lady from West Texas , so she didn't tell us much about her life. So when we read about how much she wanted us and how hard it was for her to get pregnant with us, it really made us understand the bond that we have now and why, when she says she wants her chicks to be home with her, now we get it.

CURRY: Yeah.

Ms. L. BUSH: A mother hen.

CURRY: And -- mother -- yeah. But it also comes out of your own experience being raised as an only child.

Ms. L. BUSH: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: And knowing your mom and dad really wanted another child as well.

Ms. L. BUSH: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: So all your life did you feel as though you were treated with a special -- in the special -- did it make sort of sense...

HAGER: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: ...in terms of how you were treated, knowing how much you were wanted?

HAGER: Well, when we got grounded and had to clean our room, it didn't really make sense then. But now it's -- as an adult and the relationship we have with her, it makes perfect sense.

CURRY: And what about this cleaning? Now, tell -- what -- how far will Laura Bush go?

HAGER: I mean, she'll go to the extremes. She'll go to the extremes. When I go to her house now in Dallas , I make my bed like a good guest should. She remakes it.

Ms. L. BUSH: Oh, no I...

HAGER: Yes you do, Mom, with the hospital corners. You know you do.

CURRY: Do you -- do you do this, Mrs. Bush ?

Ms. L. BUSH: Not really.

HAGER: Mother , you didn't just remake my bed when I was there?

Ms. L. BUSH: Well, OK.

HAGER: She also loves to clean a bathtub.

CURRY: Oh, I did not know this, either.

HAGER: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: Why would you love to clean the bathtub, Mrs. Bush ?

Ms. L. BUSH: There's...

HAGER: There's nothing dirty -- I mean grosser than a dirty bath. Is that right?

Ms. L. BUSH: I don't really love to clean a bathtub, but I do like things straight and orderly. And books all in the proper place and in the Dewey Decimal order.

CURRY: You have the -- your books in your home in the Dewey Decimal order? Isn't that something?

HAGER: In the back, in the green room ...

Ms. L. BUSH: I am a retired librarian.

HAGER: ...she windexed off all the pictures and hung them properly.

CURRY: All right, well...

HAGER: So that's good.

CURRY: ...that's really good. Well, your piece was really great. Jenna , thank you so much .

HAGER: Thank you.

CURRY: And we're going to have more with first lady Laura Bush in just a few moments -- thank you so much , you guys, hang tight -- right after this.

Ms. L. BUSH: Thanks.