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Barbara Bush explains how her view of her name changed after her grandmother passed away

Barbara Bush recalled with her twin sister, TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager, that the former first lady's death made her "proud" to have her name after a complicated relationship with it as a child.
/ Source: TODAY

Growing up with the name Barbara Bush in the 1990s admittedly brought some unwanted spotlight to the twin sister of TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager.

She shared the name with her grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, during the elder Bush's time in the White House with their grandfather, George H.W. Bush.

The younger Barbara, 41, reflected on that time while filling in for Hoda Kotb as Jenna's co-host on the fourth hour of TODAY on Nov. 9. She described the complicated relationship she had with her name.

"I would fall back," she said. "I was embarrassed to have attention. I didn’t want attention."

The way she viewed her name changed following the former first lady’s death at 92 in 2018.

"But then of course when Ganny passed away, the night she passed away, I was laying in bed, and I felt ashamed that I had felt that way, and proud that I had her name," she said while becoming emotional.

"Are we already crying?" Jenna asked.

"Probably not, but maybe," Barbara said before smiling.

Sharing a name with her grandmother also led to some hilarious mix-ups.

"It was more in the 2000s that it got funny," Barbara said. "It was complicated for me, but it was complicated for family members."

That included a "whoops" email from a family member who intended it for the younger Barbara Bush, not the older one.

"One time, as you know, our cousin Wendy wrote me an email," Barbara said. "The subject line was 'laser hair removal or electrolysis?' And she wrote, ‘Yo, what’s up? I’m thinking about getting laser hair removal or electrolysis on my bikini line. Do you have any recommendations?’

"And then she pressed 'send,' and it auto-filled Ganny’s email address and she received the email. She replied right away. She said she had never done either and all she could offer was to avoid harsh products like Nair."

Earlier this week, Barbara spoke alongside Jenna on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” about sharing the same name as her Ganny.

"It was awkward," she told Clarkson.

"Because she was the president's wife," Jenna said, before pointing to her sister sitting next to her. "When she was in second grade."

Barbara recalled a particular issue she would have when she was younger.

"So I would call Domino's and order — thinking I was really responsible and ordering pizza — and they would hang up on me thinking that I was prank calling," she said. "Because that was really the prank-calling era."

Jenna and Kelly then gushed over their love of prank calling.

"I wanna prank call soon!" Jenna said as her eyes grew wide.

Jenna and Barbara Bush
Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Clarkson also brought up a story involving the sisters' grandmother and none other than actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"He said the craziest story that I did not know — he broke your grandma's ankle? And she wasn't super young, so that would hurt," Clarkson said.

The Bush sisters confirmed the incident happened in the 1990s, when Schwarzenegger went sledding with their grandfather. At one point, Schwarzenegger ran into their Ganny, injuring her leg.

Vice President and Mrs. Bush Their Granddaughters, Barbara and Jenna Bush
Barbara and Jenna at the inaugural gala with their grandparents in 1989.Getty Images

"By the way, that whole — like, they went sledding? Like, can you imagine? Like, two 75-year-olds being like, 'Hey, Arnold! Let's sled!'" Jenna said. "I can't get my head really wrapped around that."

Clarkson told the sisters Schwarzenegger told her their grandmother "took it like a champ though."

"She definitely did," Jenna replied.

Barbara added: "I think she liked having stories to tell, too, and that's a good one." (At the time of the accident, the White House said the first lady broke her left leg when she hit a tree while sledding on an icy hill.)

The sisters recently honored their grandmother when they read their new children's book, "Love Comes First," to kids at the Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland, Maine.

Jenna and Barbara’s grandparents weren’t the only political couple in their family. Their parents, George W. Bush and Laura Bush, also served as president and first lady from 2001 to 2009.