Barbara Bush Says George H.W. Bush Wanted to Die Before Christmas So He Could Be With Late Wife

Barbara Pierce Bush, the daughter of President George W. Bush and granddaughter of President George H.W. Bush, said she has a good idea of why her grandfather died when he did. He did not want to spend a Christmas without his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush.

"He'd never spent a Christmas without my grandmother," Barbara, 37, said of her grandfather in an interview with PEOPLE. "He was ready to be with her again. He never said it, but my thought is that he wanted to be with her for the holiday."

Bush died on Nov. 30 at age 94 and will be laid to rest at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas. He will be buried next to his wife, who died at age 92 in April. Their daughter Robin, who died at age three in 1953 from leukemia, is also buried there.

Barbara said her grandfather wanted to be at her Oct. 7 wedding to screenwriter Craig Coyne instead of a hospital. Bush attended the ceremony at the family summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

"After my grandmother died, he made it clear that he wanted to go to Maine. He did not want to be in a hospital," Barbara told PEOPLE. She added that there was never a point where a family member was not with her grandfather after he returned to Houston in mid-October.

"He wanted to be in the game, still. He wanted to be included," she said. "We each planned trips at different times so he would always have visitors... But the majority of us didn't make it."

Bush was laid to rest in Texas a day after an emotional memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

"In his old age dad enjoyed watching police show reruns, the volume on high, all the while holding Mom's hand. After Mom died, Dad was strong, but all he really wanted to do was hold Mom's hand again," President George W. Bush said in his eulogy. "Of course Dad taught me another special lesson. He showed me what it means to be a President who serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country."

On Thursday, Bush's eldest grandson, George P. Bush, gave the final eulogy during another service in Houston.

"In our times together, our big, wonderful, and competitive family saw the personal goodness that lead to his historical greatness," George P. Bush said Thursday. "He left a simple yet profound legacy to his children, to his grandchildren, and to this country. Service. Undoubtedly, when the last words are written on him, they will certainly include this, that the fulfillment of a complete life cannot be achieved without service to others."


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