Jenna Bush Hager’s letter to her late grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush, likely won’t leave any reader’s eyes dry. The sentimental letter, which Today correspondent Bush Hager shared with viewers Thursday, April 19, touches upon the lessons of life and love that Bush instilled upon those around her, and most especially her family.
“Dearest Ganny,” the letter begins. “When we lost you, we lost one of the greats. You were our family’s rock, the glue that held us together. I hope you know in your final days how many people prayed for you, how many people told me they loved you. It was like that my whole life — people stopped me everywhere — in airports, on the street and declared their love for you. It always felt good. We didn’t mind sharing you with the world.”
Bush Hager, 36, added that Bush impressed upon her and her twin sister, Barbara, a sense of humility from a young age, and recounted one time when the girls attempted to order peanut butter sandwiches at the White House as though they were calling hotel room service.
“I will never forget when Barbara and I as 7-year-olds snuck to the bowling alley and ordered presidential peanut butter sandwiches,” she wrote. “We couldn’t wait for someone to deliver what was sure to be the fanciest sandwich of our lives when you opened the door, scolding us, telling us under no circumstances could we order food in the White House again, this was not a hotel. You taught us humility and grace.”
The family matriarch also taught Bush Hager lessons in authenticity and humor as well; the Today correspondent reflected fondly on family gatherings in Maine wherein everybody would be laughing uproariously at the dinner table.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons Bush taught Bush Hager, however, was one about love and its enduring legacy.
“You and Gampy embodied unconditional love,” she wrote of Bush and her husband, former president George H.W. Bush. “At our wedding, Henry and I asked you to read because we so hoped we could emulate your love story. Your love letters will be passed down to my girls so they know what true devotion looks like.”
Barbara and George H.W. Bush were married for 73 years after meeting at a Christmas dance.
“I married the first man I ever kissed,” then-first lady Barbara Bush told Time magazine in 1989, during the first year of George H. W. Bush’s presidency. “When I tell this to my children, they just about throw up.”