Rest in peace, Barbara Bush. Following the former First Lady’s death on Tuesday, April 17, more details have been revealed about how the 92-year-old spent her final days prior to her passing. According to George H.W. Bush’s longtime chief-of-staff, Jean Becker, the former POTUS, 93, held his wife’s hand for the entire day before she died.
“He, of course, is broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years. He held her hand all day today and was at her side when [she] left this good earth,” Becker said in a statement. “Obviously, this is a very challenging time. But it will not surprise all of you who know and love him, that he also is being stoic and strong, and is being lifted up by his large and supportive family. He is determined to be there for them as well. He appreciates all the well wishes and support.”
Barbara and her husband, George.
Just prior her death, the Bushes’ longtime friend Ambassador C. Boyden Gray said Barbara was answering phone calls before she passed away. “Some of the recent emails indicate she is not quite ready to sign off. She’s answering all of her phone calls herself,” Gray shared. A source close to the Bush family also told CBS News reporter Jenna Gibson that Barbara was “alert” and even enjoyed a drink during her final hours. “She is alert and was having conversations last night. She was also having a bourbon,” the insider said.
On Sunday, April 15, Barbara’s loved ones announced that she had decided not to seek additional medical care after being in and out of the hospital in recent months for treatments for various illnesses. She spent her final days at home surrounded by her family. “Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors, Mrs. Bush, age 92, decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care,” Bush family spokesperson Jim McGrath announced in a statement posted on Twitter before her passing.
“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving,” McGrath said at the time.
For the past year, Barbara battled Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, and she was most recently hospitalized on Friday, March 30 for shortness of breath, according to CNN. She was on oxygen and she was being cared for at her home in Houston before her death.
Following her passing, many of Barbara’s closest family members publicly released tributes to the First Lady. “I already miss this force of a woman — the ‘enforcer’ because she was the glue that held our family together. She taught me to use my voice but also to value the opinions of others. She adored her friends and family; her loyalty was unwavering. Humor helps, she often said and it does, Gans, but I will miss your laugh terribly,” Barbara’s granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager wrote on Instagram.
Barbara’s son George W. Bush also took to social media to sweetly remember his late mother. “[My family] and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes,” the former POTUS wrote. Our thoughts remain with the Bush family during this difficult time. Keep scrolling below to see photos of Babara Bush when she was young.
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My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.
Barbara and her husband George were captured in a sweet moment together holding hands and laughing.
Barbara was in her ’20s when this portrait photo was taken.
Barbara and her husband George posed with their children Neil Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and Marvin Bush in 1956.