Former President George W. Bush described the death Tuesday evening of his mother, Barbara Bush, as “the end of a beautiful life,” and offered some anecdotes from his final days with the former first lady.
“She was warm and wonderful to you — till you got out of line,” George W. Bush joked in a Wednesday interview in Dallas with Fox Business. “She was awesome.”
The former president said he visited his mother last Saturday, and the pair “were needling each other” in front of her physician.
“You want to know why George W. is the way he is?” the 43rd president recalled his 92-year-old mother asking her doctor. “Because I drank and smoke while I was pregnant with him.”
Most of their other conversations this week were shorter, more intimate interactions — “just a reaffirmation of, in my case, 72 years of being with an awesome woman,” George W. Bush recalled.
“It was just, ‘Mom, I love you,’” he said, adding that Barbara did not fear death. “She truly believes that there's an afterlife, that she’ll be wonderfully received in the arms of the loving God.”
George W. Bush also revealed that his father — 93-year-old former president George H.W. Bush — was by his wife’s side when she passed away. Barbara Bush and the 41st president were married for 73 years. Apart from Abigail Adams, she was the only first lady in American history to have been a mother to the commander in chief.
“I want to thank everyone across the nation for praying for Dad,” said the younger Bush, who reminded his daughters, Jenna and Barbara, that “we ought to be grateful that we had such a wonderful woman in our lives."
Jenna Bush Hager earlier this week described her grandmother as "a fighter" who was "in great spirits” at the end of her life.
"She's an enforcer. She reminded me not to believe everything you read, so we're grateful for her, for everybody's prayers and thoughts, and just know the world is better because she's in it,” Bush Hager, an NBC News correspondent, told her colleagues on NBC's "Today" show Monday. "We are grateful for her. She is the best grandma anybody could have ever had — or have."
Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath announced this weekend that the 92-year-old former first lady was in "failing health" and wouldn’t seek additional medical treatment.
"Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, now age 92, has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care," McGrath said in a news release Sunday. "She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving."
Though McGrath did not elaborate as to the nature of Bush's health problems, she has been treated for decades for a thyroid condition known as Grave's disease, according to the Associated Press.