Jenna Bush Hager is giving insight into late grandfather George H. W. Bush's final days in her new book, Everything Beautiful in Its Time, which she's described as a "love letter" to her grandparents. In an excerpt of the book, released Tuesday, PEOPLE reports Hager shared the last words the former president said to her twin sister, Barbara Pierce Bush, on Barbara's wedding day.
When Barbara married Craig Coyne on Oct. 7, 2018, at the Bush family estate in Maine, the 41st U.S. president was suffering from Parkinson's disease at the age of 94 and using a wheelchair as he continued to mourn the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush, who died in April of that year. "We ate a big dinner at the same table where we'd had countless meals in the years before," Hager wrote of Barbara's wedding day in her book. "Gampy sat in between Barbara and me. The last words he ever spoke to her were, 'You have never been more beautiful.'" Just over a month later, he would die on Nov. 30, 2018.
Hager explained Tuesday on Today that the book was meant to honor her three grandparents who all passed away within just a few months of each other. "All of my grandparents were prolific letter writers," Hager said on the show. "They wrote about their love, their heartbreak, about books that they had read. They wrote just to say I'm thinking about you."
She continued that title of her book stems from a Bible passage she read at her grandmother's funeral. "It says that everything is beautiful in its time," she said. "And I think even grief is beautiful in some ways, because it means you loved the people enough to miss them and to care."
On Tuesday's show, she read a toast she wrote for Barbara's wedding as well as a letter to her own daughters, Mila, 7, and Poppy, 5. "It is my mama who taught me how to be a mom, but it is you, my darlings, who are teaching me what it means to be a mom," Hager wrote to her daughters. "When I hold you at night, singing the same songs your Grammy sang to me, I am filled with unconditional love."
"And I think about my strong mama, and my grandmas, and the women that came before, and I am so grateful you are mine," she continued. "Just like those moments dancing, years ago, feet in rhythm to my mama's step, I'm following her lead again. And I'm dancing with the two of you as often as I can. Love, Mama."