Barbara Pierce Bush, the granddaughter of the late former President George H.W. Bush, said she has an idea about why the 94-year-old former president passed away when he did.
“He’d never spent a Christmas without my grandmother,” Barbara, 37, told People magazine, referring to grandmother Barbara Bush, who died earlier this year. “He was ready to be with her again. He never said it, but my thought is that he wanted to be with her for the holiday.”
Barbara Bush says her late grandfather "never spent a Christmas without my grandmother."
Over the summer, when he was hospitalized, he decided to forgo any new medical procedures. “After my grandmother died, he made it clear that he wanted to go to Maine. He did not want to be in a hospital,” she said.
In Maine, when he went there in October, “there was never a moment when there wasn’t a family member with him,” she added. “He wanted to be in the game, still. He wanted to be included.”
Barbara said the large Bush family, which includes 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren as well as in-laws, coordinated their schedules to make sure the head of the family wasn’t alone in Maine.
“We each planned trips at different times, so he would always have visitors,” Barbara added. “But the majority of us didn’t make it.
“I believe deeply that they will be together,” Barbara said of the Bush family patriarch and matriarch. “And so that makes the loss so much better.”
After three days of remembrance in Washington, the Air Force plane bearing Bush’s casket left for a final service in Houston and burial Dec. 6 at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter who died of leukemia at the age of 3, according to AP.
Reuters reported that Bush’s casket, carried via Air Force One, touched down in Houston on Dec. 5.
During a eulogy for his father, former President George W. Bush tried to hold back tears.
“Let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you,” Bush said, before breaking down in tears for a moment. “A great and noble man. The best father a son or daughter could have. And in our grief, let us know Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”
“He encouraged and comforted, but never steered. We tested his patience, I know I did. But he always responded with the great gift of unconditional love,” Bush also said.
“George H.W. Bush was America’s last great soldier-statesman,” Jon Meacham, who was the late Bush’s presidential biographer, said in a eulogy. “He stood in the breach in the Cold War against totalitarianism. He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.