"Her best advice was to look up at the sky and the stars," the former first lady remembered

By Sean Neumann
April 15, 2020 03:52 PM
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Laura Bush/Instagram

Laura Bush fondly remembers her late mom, “knowledgeable self-taught naturalist” Jenna Welch, in a new article in Southern Living about mothers and daughters.

Joined by daughter Jenna Bush Hager, a Today show co-host, and her granddaughters Mila and Poppy, the former first lady reflected on Welch’s “best advice” and other memories of her childhood.

“My mother was interested in the outdoors and was a knowledgeable self-taught naturalist,” Bush, 73, told the magazine. “Her best advice was to look up at the sky and the stars.”

Welch died last May at the age of 99, two days before Mother’s Day.

In the same mesmerizing way her mother looked to the stars, Bush and her 38-year-old twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have remembered Welch for encouraging them to lock arms with nature and embrace the tangible world around them as they grew up in Texas.

“I can still remember bird-watching with her and lying on the grass on a blanket in the summer, looking up at the constellations,” Bush said.

“In fact, Midland’s motto is ‘The Sky’s the Limit,’ ” she said, referring to her hometown in Texas. “Isn’t that great? It was so good to grow up there.”

Welch married husband Harold and moved to Midland where the couple raised their only daughter, who went on to marry George W. Bush and join him in the White House.

Mrs. Bush previously remembered her late mother as “a true daughter of West Texas who loved her family, books, and nature.”

Jenna Welch (left) and granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager in 2007
YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty

Hager has similarly remembered Welch, her namesake, for her love of the outdoors and her big heart.

“How lucky I was to be named after a woman who taught me how to slow down and appreciate every bird, and every plant in West Texas,” the former first daughter, then pregnant then with son Hal, wrote on Instagram soon after Welch died last year.

“She read us poetry and taught us about every constellation in the sky,” Hager continued then. “Her kindness and graciousness were as expansive as the West Texas horizon.”

Mrs. Bush told Southern Living that the wisdom she’d like to pass on to her daughters was more or less the same message her mother passed on to her growing up.

“I’d tell them [her daughters] to look out to the beauty of the natural world,” she said. “Right now, that’s particularly good advice because everyone’s looking down at their screens.”