Barbara Bush contemplated suicide after husband Bush Sr's 12-year affair with his younger aide
The author of The Matriarch Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, Susan Page, revealed that there were multiple blows that resulted in her depression but the main among them was her husband's affair.
The late First Lady Barbara Bush, who was once described as a "silver-haired pearl draped howitzer", had gone through a long period of depression in the mid-seventies and even contemplated suicide, according to a new explosive book on her life.
The author of 'The Matriarch Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty', Susan Page, revealed that there were multiple factors that resulted in her depression but the main among them was her husband former President George HW Bush's 12-year-long affair with his younger aide — Jennifer Fitzgerald. The book is set to release next Tuesday.
Barbara also recalled her best of times as the dizzying year when she returned from a post in Beijing, China as chief of the US Liaison Office under President Gerald Ford. However, the year eventually turned out to be her worst.
When Bush Sr. was assigned to head the CIA in 1975, Barbara "fell into darkness." She found herself "falling into the worst personal crisis she had faced since her daughter Robin died more than two decades earlier," Page wrote in her book. "Overwhelmed by pain and loneliness, she contemplated suicide," the Daily Mail reported.
"She would pull over to the side of the road until the impulse to plow into a tree or drive into the path of an oncoming car had passed," the book stated.
"I felt terrible. I would pull over and park so I wouldn't go hit a tree," Barbara confessed to author Susan Page before her death. "I really wasn't brave enough to do that, but that's why I pulled over, so I wouldn't do that, or I wouldn't run into another car." Bush Sr reportedly held his weeping wife in his arms every night as she tried explaining her feelings to him. "I almost wonder why he didn't leave me," Barbara said while talking to the author.
Reports state that the former first lady hid her depression from other family members and friends, however, not from her husband who encouraged her to get professional help. Barbara later theorized that her depression was a "toxic combination of factors."
Jennifer Fitzgerald was seven years younger than Barbara and was small and blond. Reports state that she was divorced and very protective of George while being "pricky to others." A member of Bush Sr.'s inner circle, on condition of anonymity, told the author that Bush was first introduced to Fitzgerald by Dean Burch in the 1970s, he was "simply captivated."
"Just seven years younger than Barbara and not a striking beauty, she was flirty and solicitous and focused completely on him," the book said. "Their surreptitious romance would last for more than a dozen years, inexplicable to those around him and impossible for anyone to manage."
Reports state that the pair's flirtation began when Bush was Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973. A woman, who was sharing a beach house with Fitzgerald in Ocean City, Maryland, at the time recalled Bush Sr. calling the house at least once a day during the summer of 1973. "Her giggly manner and their whispered conversations made it so clear that the calls were personal," the author wrote. When he accepted the post in China in 1974, he hired her as his assistant, which reportedly led Barbara to leave Beijing for the US for a while.
The article states that Barbara hitched a ride with the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who had been making a diplomatic visit with his family. Barbara did not return to China until January 1975, this marked the first Christmas the couple ever spent apart and the longest time they went without seeing each other during their marriage.
When Bush was nominated for Vice President during the 1980 campaign, his suspicious campaign manager and best friend Jim Baker gave him an ultimatum to decide between him and Jennifer. Bush took a day to think it over and moved Fitzgerald to a fundraising position in New York.
However, when he was elected Vice President, he brought her along to Washington and sat her outside his office in the White House. The rumors about him and other women also brought in a bizarre allegation in 1981 that he had been shot while he was leaving the home of a woman in the early hours at Capitol Hill.
A Washington lobbyist's biography included a very suggestive event dating to 1984: "A US ambassador had complained about being asked to arrange for Bush and Jennifer Fitzgerald to share a private cottage during an official visit to Geneva." Bush reportedly was close to Fitzgerald until he won the presidency in 1988 when he made her deputy chief of protocol at the State Department.
The former president, while talking to historian Jon Meacham about Fitzgerald, had said: "I was very close to her for a while. And liked her', George Bush told historian Jon Meacham. I knew she was difficult and knew other people didn't like her. She was hard to work with for other people around her." However, when he was asked whether he had an affair, he responded with a "No."
Barbara confessed to Bush's executive assistant Chase Untermeyer once, saying: "I used to think she was terrible. Now I just feel sorry for her." The former first lady, in her diary, once wrote: "My own opinion is that Jennifer really does hurt George. His eyes really glaze over when you mention her name. She is just what he wants, he says and says the hell with it all."
Fitzgerald is retired and is living in Florida. When Page asked her about the affair, she continued to deny it, saying: "It simply didn't happen. I have nothing but the deepest respect and admiration for the entire Bush family."