When asked if she planned to follow her skydiving husband’s lead and take a leap on her milestone birthday, the former First Lady quipped to PEOPLE, “I’m too smart to jump out of a perfectly good plane. I am not jumping out of an airplane. I am not an idiot. The whole family is coming for my birthday, which will be fun.”
All five of Barbara’s children – and most of her 17 grandchildren – gathered for a weekend-long family fete at her son George W. Bush‘s expansive summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
On Sunday, the former First Lady’s nonprofit, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, hosted a special Celebration of Reading event at Maine’s Ogunquit Playhouse, where her children Jeb Bush, Dororothy Bush Koch (who the family calls Doro), Marvin Bush and Neil Bush each read from gushing new forewords they had written for their mother’s recently re-released 1994 memoir, Barbara Bush: A Memoir.
“It was an evening of tears and laughter and expression of true and unconditional love for their mom,” a Bush spokesperson tells PEOPLE. “They all mentioned how their mother has taught them about the definition of love, especially through the special relationship [with her husband] and 70 years of marriage.”
Several celebrity authors, including Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, Jill Conner Browne and James McBride, also read excerpts from their own novels at the event.
The party isn’t over yet. On Monday night, the Bush clan will honor its matriarch once again with a dinner outside St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, near the family’s estate on Walker’s Point. Singers Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Reba McEntire will perform at the dinner; George W. Bush will give remarks; and Barbara’s only daughter, Doro, will give the invocation, a spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Barbara’s birthday weekend was for a good cause. The celebration, which was in fact a fundraiser for the literacy foundation she has dedicated her life to, has raised a total of $17.3 million, including a $7 million donation for the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
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As for a more private family celebration, Doro told Today that her mother had to be talked into even the festivities benefitting her foundation.
A spokeswoman for the former First Lady tells PEOPLE, “Mrs. Bush is not a big fan of birthdays, especially her own.”