When Jenna Bush Hager interviewed her grandfather, former US President George H.W. Bush about growing old – they both broke down in tears.
Visibly choked up at points throughout the interview, which marked the former President’s 88th birthday, Jenna Bush Hager couldn’t help blubbing when her grandfather read out an emotional poem he’d written for his family.
In the heartbreaking poem George Bush began crying as he told his family: If you need me I’m here.
Before the interview is shown Jenna Bush Hager confessed on NBC’s Today show: “I tried as hard as I possibly could not to cry, but we are the family criers.”
In the revealing interview George Bush told how he still has one more wish he wants to fulfill – to see his great granddaughter grow up.
George Bush said that being around 10-month-old Georgia Bush “just takes me back” and that he longed for more time with her.
He also told how he is not scared of death and looks forward to being reunited in heaven with daughter Robin, who died of leukemia aged four in 1953.
In the seven-minute interview, George Bush was by turns funny, reflective and honest about his life.
He said that being married to wife Barbara, 87, for the last 63 years has been a “challenge and a reward” and that she is a “wonder”.
George Bush said that the couple “rejoice” in their six children, 17 grandchildren and great grandchild Georgia Bush, who arrived last year.
The former President said: “She’s a beautiful girl and she just takes me back. I just wish I were going to be around to see her grow old. I won’t be…
“…I think about death. I wonder what it’s like. There’s people in heaven I want to see, definitely.”
As for who he wants to see first, George Bush said: “It depends if Barbara pre-deceases me.
“Probably go with her, but I think my mum and my father, and maybe Robin our little girl that died.”
In the poem, which brought George Bush and Jenna Bush Hager to tears, he writes of how in his life the summer is fading out and the “wind is a little colder” – but that he still has a zest for life.
He writes how he’d love to wind back the clock and overcome his failing health and do all the things he used to.
The final, deeply poignant passage reads: “There’s so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow, If you need me I’m here, Devotedly, Dad.”
Asked about how he feels about turning 88, George Bush said: “It’s pretty darn old. I never thought I’d get this old.
“Ageing is alright, better than the alternative, which is not being here.”
With characteristic good humor he added that nowadays he sometimes pretends that he can’t hear what people are saying and just tells them “what?” – just to “keep them on the ball”.
As a Navy pilot George Bush was shot down over the Pacific on September 2nd 1944 but survived and grabbed his “second shot at life” with both hands.
Reflecting on his career he said: “I’m sure I could have done a lot of things better.
“It’s been a fulfilling time with a lot of experiences, including being president of the United States. [That’s] not too shabby.
“I want somebody else to define the legacy. I’ve kind of banned use of the L word. History will point out some of the things I did wrong and some of the things I did right.”
George Bush said one of the things which still stings was the suggestion made by some that he did not try his hardest during his 1993 election defeat to Bill Clinton.
He said it was a “terrible feeling, awful feeling”, adding: “I really wanted to win and worked hard and later people said I didn’t care, it was just crazy.
“I worked my heart out and it was terrible to adjust but then you figure life goes on, just do what the next challenge is.”
Recently George Bush returned to the White House to see the portrait of his son George W. Bush hung close to his own, a ceremony he described as filling him with “awe and wonder”.
Going back into the White House caused “a lot of memories to come flooding back” – but for many people it was George Bush’s brightly socks that were the talking point.
Speaking to NBC George Bush admitted he likes a “colorful sock”, going so far as to describe himself as a “sock man”.
Asked by Jenna Bush Hager if he sees the comparison to Justin Bieber, who also wears bright socks, George Bush said: “Bieb? Is he a sock man. I don’t know much about the Bieber. Never seen him, I don’t know what he does.”
Jenna Bush Hager then sang Justin Bieber’s hit Baby, to which George Bush replied: “Is that his song? I don’t know it. I don’t think I’d like it.”