On November 30, the Bush family lost the patriarch of their family, former president George H.W. Bush, just seven months after losing their beloved “Ganny,” Barbara Bush.
George was 94 years old.
Now, in an exclusive interview with Today, George and Barbara’s granddaughters, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, are talking first hand about their beloved grandfather and the last memories they had with him.
Barbara, who married her now-husband Craig Coyne this past October, said they “decided to get married very quickly because we wanted my grandfather to be with us.”
She then shared a memory of her grandfather from her wedding day in October:
“He got dressed early and came downstairs early before the wedding so that he could see me in my wedding dress before we got married. One of the last things he said to me was that I’ve never looked so beautiful.”
During his last summer at their home on the coast of Maine, Barbara was able to spend some alone time with her grandfather.
She told Today that during their one-on-one time, she read to George during the day. Most of what she read was the love letters he wrote to Barbara throughout their life together:
“He would be in his chair and his eyes would be closed and so I’d try to wrap up my reading thinking that he had fallen asleep and instead every time I would try to wrap up he’d say, ‘Go on. Go on.’ And he just had his eyes closed cause I think he was picturing what I was reading to him.”
Jenna added that one of the things she adored most about her grandfather was that he was never ashamed of them and always tried his best to make sure their “fishbowl of a life” felt normal.
And that is something she hopes her children will remember about their great-grandfather, that no matter what he had going on in his life, he always put his family first.
View this post on Instagram
What a gift that my girls got to know our Gampy. What an honor that we could name our Poppy after such a principled, humble, kind man who we all loved fiercely and who loved us back. I read this letter—he wrote us—with new eyes: Remember the old song? "I'll be there, ready when you are?" Well, I'll be there, ready when you are. And if you need me, I'm here. Devotedly, Dad."
“I feel so lucky that my kids got to know him. Mila will remember him. And Poppy was named after him, which is the biggest blessing. Yesterday, Mila goes, ‘Poppy, you know that you were named after the best man in the world, don’t you?’ And, of course, I had to go hide in the kitchen and cry.”
She continued with another anecdote her 5-year-old daughter shared with her following George’s passing:
“Mila said, ‘Well, of course, it’s happening right before Christmas. Gampy had to get to Gammy so they could decorate their Christmas tree.’ And I thought, You know, from the mouth of babes, because they had never spent a Christmas apart in their whole 73 years, 74 years. Of course, he wanted to be there. And she probably was, like, ‘Come on! Time to come home.'”
And as Barbara admitted, she and her sister take a lot of comfort in knowing that George is back with his wife after seven months apart.
She added that their father, former President George W. Bush, also takes solace in knowing that his parents are together again.
Shortly before H.W. passed away, Barbara told Today that her grandfather was reflective, mostly about his late wife.
“I asked him if his heart was broken and he said yes. And then he looked at me and he said, ‘Do you think it’ll feel worse than this? And it just really got me. I mean, of course, his heart was broken. He had lost the love of his life. And yet, he also, whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would say, ‘I couldn’t be better.’ I think instead of talking about his time being limited, he just lived as much as he could.”
Just before passing away, Jenna said he told his family he was ready to enter into heaven.