The peaceful final hours of George Herbert Walker Bush have been revealed, after the 41st president’s passed away aged 94 surrounded by family at his home in Houston, Texas.
James A Baker III, both Bush’s friend and former secretary of state, told the New York Times that Bush had been fading over the last week – spending most of his time sleeping, not eating and never getting out of bed.
Baker said that although the former president had defied death multiple times over the years – struggling with a form of Parkinson’s and being hospitalized with pneumonia several times in recent months – this time felt different.
Baker stopped by the Bush home on Friday to check on his old friend – or perhaps to say goodbye.
He said as soon as he entered the room, Bush perked up, asking: ‘Where are we going, Bake?’
WE’RE GOING TO HEAVEN.
‘That’s where I want to go,’ Bush replied.
Within 13 hours, the 94-year-old was on his way.
Friends and family flocked to Bush’s bedside on Friday evening as it became clear that the end was near.
Baker’s wife Susan was also there, along with Jean Becker, the former president’s longtime chief of staff; and the Rev Dr Russell Jones Levenson Jr, rector of St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, and some nurses and doctors.
Acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan also asked to pay a visit, during which he sang ‘Silent Night’ while the former president mouthed the words. The singer then performed a Gaelic song.
Earlier on Friday, when Baker stopped by for a morning visit, he said Bush seemed to be on the rebound as he began eating again, enjoying three five-minute soft-boiled eggs, a bowl of yogurt and two fruit drinks.
EVERYBODY THOUGHT THIS IS GOING TO BE A GREAT DAY AND HE’S BACK AND HE’S BOUNCED BACK AGAIN
After Bush lost his wife of 73 years, Barbara, in April, he told friends he wasn’t ready to die yet, despite his Parkinson’s taking a severe toll on his ability to walk and speak.
He spent the summer at his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, but was ‘somewhat diminished’ when he returned back to Houston in the fall.
Baker said the pair went out for oysters two weeks ago and ‘things sort of went downhill from there’.
On Thursday, Baker left at around 9.15am but returned in the evening as he and his wife were on their way to dinner.
HE WAS SITTING UP IN BED AND WAS ABLE TO CONVERSE WITH PEOPLE
However, it wasn’t long before they were on their way home from dinner and the Bakers received a phone call urging them to stop back by the house as Bush had ‘slipped considerably’ around 8.15pm.
Baker held his dear friend’s hand and rubbed his feet while prayers were said and children were called to tell their father goodbye Bush’s hand and rubbed his feet. Prayers were said. The other children were called so they could tell their father goodbye.
‘If those things could be sweet,’ Baker said, ‘it was sweet.’
His final conversation was a speaker phone call with his son, George W. Bush, who praised him as a ‘wonderful dad’ and told him that he loved him.
‘I love you, too,’ the father said – his last words on earth.