On Wednesday, Jenna Bush Hager and her twin sister, Barbara Pierce Bush, appeared on the Today show, to pay tribute to their grandfather, the 41st President, George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday at the age of 94 at his home in Houston after a battle with Vascular Parkinsonism. 

“I think we’re both heartbroken. We, of course, expected our grandfather to pass away soon — he was 94 — and yet it came as such a shock. And we miss him already very much because he really was the center of our family. And yet, I think I also get a lot of joy knowing that he’s with our grandmother now,” Barbara said referring to her grandmother and former first lady, Barbara Bush, who died in April at 92. 

“They gave us such unconditional love. I was looking through old pictures, and it amazes me that even though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, we never really thought of him as anything besides our grandpa,” Jenna added.

Barbara and George have had the longest marriage of any president and first lady in U.S. history. 

While recalling the time of her grandmother’s death, Barbara said that George was “reflective” and “heartbroken” when it happened. “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 will feel worse than this?’ And it just, really got me, of course his heart was broken — he had lost the love of his life,” she said. “And yet, he also, whenever you asked him how he was doing, he would say, ‘I couldn’t be better.’”

“And so I think, instead of talking about how his time was limited, he just lived as much as he could,” she added.

Jenna revealed that family knew that this would “most likely” be George’s last summer.

“Everyday, Mila and Poppy would say, ‘Let’s go give great Gampy a hug,’” she recalled of her five and three-year-old daughters. “When he passed away, and I said to [husband Henry Hager] — and I didn’t think she could hear me — like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening right before Christmas.’ And Mila said, ‘Well of course it’s happening right before Christmas, Gampy had to get to Ganny so they could decorate their Christmas tree.’”

According to Jenna, her grandparents had never spent a Christmas apart through their entire decades-long marriage. “So of course he wanted to be there. And she probably was like, ‘Come on, time to come home,’“ Jenna said while speaking about her belief that George wanted to pass away before Christmas.

Jenna and Barbara said the Bush family has been “shocked” by the love and support from the public in the wake of the former president’s death.

“That’s a really wonderful gift to us, is that we get to hear other people’s stories on how he touched their lives as well,” Barbara said.

Jenna, who is a Today contributor, previously spoke about the loss of her grandfather on Monday during the morning show.

“My grandfather wrote letters all his life to his children, his wife, friends and even political rivals,” she said during the Monday segment. “He often wrote about love and family. For me, his words have always been a precious gift, all the more so now. It’s my turn to write a love letter to my Gampy.”

“My grandfather always said his greatest gift was his family. Whatever demands were placed on him in his professional life, and there were many, we all knew we could count on him. He made each of us feel adored always. He was our rock,” she continued.

Barbara and Jenna are only two of George’s 17 grandchildren, and their father is former President, George W. Bush, who is now 72. Both sisters are now in Washington D.C. for the state funeral for their grandfather which is taking place at the National Cathedral on Wednesday.


W. Bush is scheduled to deliver the eulogy for his father and former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney and biographer Jon Meacham will also deliver eulogies. Former senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who was a close friend of Bush, is also expected to speak at the service. 

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