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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Barbara Bush Laid to Rest. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired April 21, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] REV. DR. RUSSELL J. LEVENSON JR, RECTOR: Just something very personal and very real. She simply confirmed what we believe, what we read in the lesson from Second Corinthians that we live by our faith and there are things we don't see. As Paul wrote, even on days like today we don't lose heart. Yes, Barbara's health declined. As we just heard, though our outward nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For what is mortal, Paul writes, by the grace and mercy of God is swallowed up by life. We find Barbara's Jesus in the gospel lesson. Jesus, who said all who come to me will be welcomed. Her Jesus offers the hope that life here, when it comes to its natural close, is changed not ended. Some books have no true ending. Some offer an epilogue. A hint to imagine what rests beyond the closing chapter. Can we imagine this day? A reunion with her parents? With your parents, sir? And with your dear Robin, together again? My guess is she's already hunted down Jane Austen and has said, well, how did things turn out with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett?
Or knowing Barbara as we all do, she may be telling jane how things should have turned out.
In the meantime, until each of our time comes, she would want us to carry on. To live as she lived, fully and deeply. To laugh and laugh often. To love all that God sends our way. And to serve one another the common good and especially the purposes of God. So leave here today not to grieve but to rejoice. As we leave, we will sing by Barbara's choice, "Joyful, joyful, we adore thee." Barbara would want us to celebrate her next great chapter. She has been raised to new life for in this story you never turn the page and see the two words "the end." Barbara Bush's story has just begun again. And the best is yet to come as she lives in that holy city of God. Amen.
[13:08:21] LEVENSON: Please stand. It is the tradition in the church that we stand to affirm the things we believe. So in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to life eternal invites you to turn to the top of page six and together let us reaffirm the faith that we share with our dear Barbara Bush by saying the creed. I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only son our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost. Born of the Virgin Mary. Suffered under Pontius Pilate. Was crucified dead and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From then he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic church, the communion of saint, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, amen.
Let us pray together in the words that Jesus taught us saying our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever amen.
[13:10:17] REV. DR. PETER CHENEY: Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of our son, Christ the Lord. Grant, we beseech thee to thy whole church in paradise and on earth, thy light and thy peace, amen. Grand that all who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection.
CHENEY: Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage and who walk as yet by faith, that thy holy spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.
CHENEY: Grant to thy faithful people pardon and peace that we may be cleansed from all our sins and serve thee with a quiet mind.
CHENEY: Grant to all who mourn a sure confidence in thy Fatherly care that, casting all their grief on thee, they may know the consolation of thy love.
CHENEY: Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved. That they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope. In the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love. Amen.
CHENEY: Help us, we pray, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saint, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection to life everlasting.
CHENEY: Grant that increasing in knowledge and love of thee, Barbara may go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service in thy heavenly Kingdom.
CHENEY: Grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection to have our consummation and bliss in thy eternal and everlasting glory, and with all thy saints to receive the crown of life which thou dost promise to all who share in the victory of thy son, Jesus Christ. Who liveth and reigneth with thee and the holy spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
CHENEY: Please be seated.
DOROTHY BUSH KOCH, DAUGHTER OF BARBARA BUSH: And when she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars. And she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with the night and pay no worship to the garish sun.
LEVENSON: Please stand.
Our service continues with the commendation in the middle of page eight. Give rest, oh, Christ, to your servant with your saints. Where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. The only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind, and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so you did ordain when you created me, saying, you are dust, and to dust you shall return. All of us go down to dust, yet even at the grave we make our song, alleluia, alleluia.
CROWD: Give rest, oh, Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Into your hands, oh, merciful Savior, we commend your servant Barbara. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold. A lamb of your own flock. A sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her Bar into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace. And into the glorious company of the saints in light.
[13:15:21] LEVENSON: We are about to receive a blessing from the bishop of the great episcopal diocese of the state of Texas. But before that blessing and then I'll offer dismissal and then by direction of Barbara Bush, we will leave as we sing "Joyful, Joyful, We adore thee." As the family and the clergy depart during the singing of that hymn at the conclusion of that hymn, I would ask that everyone else please be seated, and please not leave until you're directed to do so by the ushers.
ANDREW DOYLE, BISHOP, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF TEXAS: Unto God's gracious mercy and protection, we commit you. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace, and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always, amen.
LEVENSON: Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What a truly beautiful funeral service for a truly extraordinary woman. The 1,500 guests will now be leaving this church, the St. Martins Episcopal Church, in Houston.
John King, it brought back so many wonderful memories of Barbara Bush.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just that scene at the end, the 43rd president of the United States, pushing the wheelchair of the 41st president of the United States behind the casket of the first lady, the mother. Remarkable. Just remarkable moment. I think the words of Jeb Bush, the words of Baker, Jon Meacham, expressing who she was. Jeb Bush said she was real. If you wanted to sum up Barbara Bush in one word, think that would be it. Authentic in this age, at a time of inauthentic people in this town. A remarkable tribute that Jeb talked about. Maybe there will be a lesson for the rest of us to remember. The value of being real.
[13:20:15] BLITZER: Yes, it was a beautiful moment indeed.
Kristan, you were once a chief of staff to Barbara Bush. I noticed you got emotional during the service.
KRISTAN KING NEVINS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO BARBARA BUSH: You know, it was amazing about the service is it reminded me of one of her favorite speeches that she always liked to give titled, faith, family and friends. And the elements of the service, so perfectly tied together, the elements of her speeches that she always expected me to write. There was humor, there were tears, there was, you know, reference to the faith that she had, that put her at ease for making the choice she did at the end of her life. It also referenced her love of literacy and her belief in humanity, in people. Most importantly, it focused on her friends, but more importantly, her family. At the end of the day, even those of us who worked for her, who knew her and loved her dearly, we never confused ourselves with family. And her family was by far the most important thing to her.
BLITZER: It certainly came through. The children, the grandchildren, there were great-grandchildren there as well. They all loved her so much.
NEVINS: They did. She once said, you know, we did have the perfect family. And she would talk about her husband and say he was a saint. You know, I think you saw at the service today there was just intense devotion and love for her. And also her humility. There was a joke made about how someone ran into her on the beach and said are you Barbara Bush, and she said, I get that a lot. She wasn't somebody who wanted accolades. I think that's really to John's point kind of refreshing now.
BLITZER: It was such an accurate reflection in those eulogies that we heard from those three people. They really speak from the heart, but they spoke accurately.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Jon Meacham described Mrs. Bush as the first lady of the greatest generation. In that church today, you had the Americans who made the most difficult decisions of war and peace over the last 30 years. Those men and their allies may not have agreed with each other and most Americans may not have agreed with the decisions they made, but they agreed on one thing. They would come today and honor the service of a woman who did more for her country then any woman arguably since Abigail Adams, but I would argue including Abigail Adams. No woman, no individual has been second lady, first lady and first mother and lived to see her son be president. That was Barbara Bush. She's the one who brought the American elite together, our country's leaders together for one day.
BLITZER: It brought back so many historic moments, Doug.
DOUGLAS BERKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It did. But yet, really, the key to the service were the grandkids. The whole new generation of Bushes. And they were so emotional. You could just feel their anguish and love on their faces. I thought Jeb Bush did just a marvelous job. And he stressed don't get caught up in the big me. Don't take yourself too seriously. What surprised me a little bit was you didn't hear a lot about her being a first lady. It was something more than that. It was about being a family person and a matriarch. The politics was sort of left on the side.
BLITZER: And what was so nice, John, was that you had former presidents there who were once rivals, former first ladies, but all of them coming together at least for an hour and a half, two hours today to express their love for this wonderful woman.
KING: In Houston, you saw bipartisanship, friendship, setting aside differences to come together for community, for country. For family. In the broader sense of the use of the word. Again, as we pay this tribute today, we don't see a lot of this. This is a town that is not completely polarized. That it is viewed as hearsay for a Republican to be friendly or socialize with a Democrat. This is in some ways a look back at a very different time and many would argue a better time in terms of the conversation of the country. Where you can have differences. They had them within the Bush family. They had them within those pews. Especially the front pews. But at the end of the day, your family, friends and your country come first. That is sadly lost in the country now. I'm being sappy sitting at the table. But having had the privilege and honor of knowing the Bushes and you watch the transition to the Clintons, the transitions back to the Bushes, that's the remarkable part that is America. And we forget it too often.
NEVINS: I think she was the embodiment of that. It's anecdotal, however, a good friend of mine who worked for a Democratic Senator, the day she passed texted me and said, my daughter lost a role model today. And I think that was exactly what you saw portrayed in that church.
[13:25:13] NAFTALI: I think she'd be very proud if we reminded ourselves that civility mattered to her. For all of her teasing. For all her ability to poke fun at people, she did it with an understanding of civility. That's something we have lost lately.
BLITZER: The casket was escorted from the church by the grandsons. The motorcade will take the casket from the St. Martins Episcopal Church, in Houston, over to College Station where she will be buried at the George H.W. Bush presidential library center. We're going to watch this unfold as it continues.
I want you to give us a little historic perspective right now, Kate, because there's so much divisiveness in the country right now. It was so beautiful to see that divisiveness at least for a while go away.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It was a really nice few hours where we had a, you know, moment to remember somebody who did not stand for that. It was a different party, the party has changed a lot obviously recently. One thing I would also say is, you know, going back the Bushes famously were close to the Johnson family. When Nixon was inaugurated, they went to Andrews to say good bye to the Johnsons because they felt that loyalty, even though they were Democrats, they were fellow Texans, and they had a mutual respect there and there's a great letter that Barbara Bush wrote to lady bird that all Bushes love all Johnsons. There was a feeling they were the only ones who knew the weight of the position, of living in the White House, being the first lady. You really have to have that camaraderie. Barbara Bush famously showed Hillary Clinton around the residence. And Hillary Clinton fondly remembers that, even though they're from two different political parties. I think that's very important.
BLITZER: Kristan, I loved hearing what the granddaughters had to say. Because they were so, so emotional.
NEVINS: I think that they truly looked up to their Ganny as somebody who was the epitome of what they wanted to be, and she was from a different generation. She, you know, dropped out of college and married early and focused on her family. However, she's been incredibly encouraging of her granddaughters, who are doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs, to really -- to really go and do what they -- what their passion is in this world. And they knew she was always reading and continued to do so.
BLITZER: You were Barbara Bush's chief of staff. You spent a lot of time in Texas with her. A lot of time in Kennebunkport, Maine. Talk about how she felt about her grandkids and great grand kids.
NEVINS: She was always very proud of them. I think one of the most telling aspects of Mrs. Bush, in particular, is how she looked at her family, was when Neil married Maria Bush, his second wife, and Mrs. Bush immediately adopted Maria's three children into her total grandchildren count and treated them as if she was -- as if those children had always been a part of her family. And I think that that was -- that showed her character, it showed her love of family. And Neil selected Maria, and, by extension, the family embraced Maria and her children.
BLITZER: You saw Dora Bush and her father there sitting together, comforting him, George H.W. Bush, 93 years old, in that wheelchair.
NEVINS: Yes, and Dora's always been very special, obviously the only girl. She's able to go up and spend the entire summer with her parents. She is -- she plays in some ways the stereotypical daughter role of, you know, the old adage of your sons will make sure your rent is paid but your daughters will make sure you're fed. She's certainly stepped up and always taken on that role and loved her parents dearly. The way she was just stroking her father's back, just continued to show that she's embracing that position.
BLITZER: And what was really good for us, John, you know, because we covered George w. Bush, the former president. We saw him reacting to the various remarks from the eulogist, smiling. He had a big smile on his face from time to time as he reflected on his wife -- they're now -- the procession is leaving the church right now. But that was an exciting moment.
KING: At any point, some would talk about --
BLITZER: These are, by the way, the grandsons, the pallbearers who are escorting the casket from the church.
KING: You could get the trademark from the 43rd President George W. Bush, the eye roll, the wink and the smile when any of the speakers including his brother would talk about the looks from Barbara or the discipline from Barbara Bush, and how he was sometimes the wayward sign. Jeb made a point of noting that W. was the one on the receiving end of the Barbara lecture. What struck me about the Bushes, looking over at their father, to watch how President George H.W. Bush was respond to the ceremony.
[13:30:07] BLITZER: All right, let's listen to this.
UNIDENTIFIED SERVICEMEMBER: (INAUDIBLE)
BLITZER: It's a very large loving Bush family. They are all there. They're remembering. They're remembering this wonderful, wonderful woman.
John, as we see those images, these people really are part of America's history.
KING: The only thing that I can -- comes to mind is covering the funeral. The Bush family in American politics, American government. Much like the only thing in our lifetime is the Kennedy family. And in some ways, it's sad, because public service gets such a bad name now adays. Politics gets such a bad name nowadays. The name Bush is not very welcome in today's Republican Party. George W. Bush, when he ran for president, said he wanted to be a compassionate conservative. That was born of his mother. Had 9/11 not happened, we would live in a different America right now in so many ways. I believe we would have a different Republican Party in so many ways had George W. Bush would have been able to enact what he wanted to enact in his presidency. Think about the debates of immigration now compared to then. A bit of a distraction, diversion, but that was part of Barbara Bush's legacy, who George W. Bush was, how he treated people, including the immigrant experience he learned as governor of Texas and growing up in Texas. That was her. As much as he was proud of his father, the president, as much as he was proud of all the lessons he learned about public service from his father, the president, that part of George W. Bush came from Barbara Bush.
BLITZER: We heard throughout the service, Kristan, references to this is what Barbara Bush would have wanted at this funeral service. And you discussed this with her on several occasions.
KRISTAN KING NEVINS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO BARBARA BUSH: Probably went a little bit longer than she would have liked and was too focused on her. However, it was a beautiful celebration. You know, it touched upon the family, faith and friends. It allowed people to grieve. And she was -- the front pews were filled by the people that loved her and that she loved in return. Watching the family, escort the casket out, it actually makes me think of mornings in Maine. I would start every morning, you bring the papers to the Bushes and they would lay in bed and read the news of the day. But there were often surrounded by their children and grandchildren. And they would trickle in and grab their cup of coffee. And it was without fail that you would walk in and there would be at least Dora, and then, you know, some other number of children and grandchildren in that room. And just watching the family surround her, it was such a beautiful remembrance, harkening back to the summers at walker's point.
[13:35:12] BLITZER: The motorcade will leave the St. Martin's Episcopal Church, in Houston, head over to the George Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, and they will be there.
You know, Doug, I was really impressed with Jeb Bush's eulogy. I've heard him give many speeches over the years. But this was an emotional, powerful message that he delivered on behalf of his mom.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: He truly did. I was a little surprised George W. Bush didn't say anything. There we saw him pushing his father out with the wheelchair in the end. I'm sure when his father passes, he will be eulogist. But I thought Jeb Bush just did an incredible job today of bringing home why we should remember Barbara Bush and we sometimes forget that -- how much was happening in '89 and '90 and '91 with the break-up of the Soviet Union and German reunification. There was so much turmoil. If I learned something the last hour, was when they said Barbara Bush kind of recommitted to Jesus Christ in 2014. George W. Bush had had a religious experience. And Barbara Bush in the clip which you ran earlier said, I'm not afraid to die, I believe her. She was ready. Her faith in Christianity was that deep.
BLITZER: And I was very, very moved, Timothy, when I saw President George W. Bush push the wheelchair of his father.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I share that. I was moved too, and it was a reminder of how extraordinary this family has been. Whether you agree with them or not, they have provided leadership over this country for a long time. And Barbara Bush is the unspoken hero, unspoken hero, the one behind them. In a sense, she was the one pushing them. Now she's gone, and W. is helping his father. I think one of the things we all should remember today is how human these are. You know, our presidents, our first ladies, are so far away from us. We don't really know them. Jeb's eulogy and Susan Baker's, Jon's, they all gave us a sense that that person, that impish, marvelously smart person we thought was there was there. She was a human being. On this day, that's something we ought to remember.
BLITZER: You were obviously moved as well.
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
BLITZER: I was listening with you and I could see.
ANDERSON BROWER: Yes, I was really struck by what Susan Baker said, too, because they were so close. When she talked about how Barbara Bush pushed her to get out of her comfort zone and start advocating for issues. Barbara Bush understood the importance of the position of first lady and she embraced it. She made a huge difference in how people perceived people living with HIV. And then of course literally. But she is kind of the matriarch of the Republican family and of a Republican Party that doesn't really exist right now, and I think that's what makes people emotional today.
BLITZER: They were members of the St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Kristan, for 50 years, and I thought what we heard from the Reverend Levenson Jr, we learned more about both of these, the president and the first lady in his remarks as well.
NEVINS: He came and took over the pastorship of the church about 13 years ago, so he's had a lot of quality time with the Bushes. And I remember Mrs. Bush --
BLITZER: You're seeing the law enforcement saluting as this motorcade begins that journey to College Station.
Let's listen a little bit.
[13:40:13] BLITZER: Kristan, you noticed at the end, her Secret Service agents were standing right next to the casket until the very last moment. They had a name for her, tranquility.
NEVINS: Which I feel was the perfect juxtaposition with the other nickname that she was known as, "The Enforcer." But I think the service today really showed the balance between being the enforcer and also truly being tranquility as the Secret Service called her. They adored her. They knew she couldn't push her. And 41 gave her a smart car for her birthday, about 10 years ago I think it was. And she went toe-to-toe with the Secret Service, so she was allowed to drive it around Kennebunkport. And they eventually gave in. But you would always see an agent sitting next to her in the car as well as the follow-up car. But they truly did have such a special place in her heart. It was so warming to hear from so many of her former officers.
BLITZER: Our Kaylee Hartung is outside the St. Martin's Episcopal Church.
Kaylee, you've been there throughout. I'm anxious to get your impressions.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we heard so much throughout the course of the service, the importance of family to Barbara Bush. We were reminded of that in the days following her passing as well. And there as you saw the family follow her casket on to this driveway in front of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. You could feel the strength and the unity of this family. I know "dynasty" isn't a word that Barbara Bush liked to hear, nor was legacy, but you saw there, as they stood there, embraced, holding hands. You all have mentioned the power of seeing George W. Bush pushing his father, G.W., George H.W. Bush towards that casket. It was a moment of incredible strength, as I saw it. You could see the pallbearers, Barbara Bush's grandsons moving in very slow step, in very small step. You could see the weight that they were physically carrying in their hands, you know, some of them tensing up in moments as they inched closer and closer to that hearse to load their grandmother's body inside. As that hearse will now take her through the city of Houston. A community that has come to love this woman. A community that has come to feel that the Bush family is some of their own. They'll now progress through the memorial park that Barbara Bush had been known to run through in earlier days, to walk through in more recent days. We expect the people of Houston to line the streets of the city before they get on the highway and head to College Station. But here today what you saw, Wolf, was a family celebrating the life of a woman they loved but also hurting for the loss they're all experiencing.
BLITZER: Definitely hurting right now. But remembering and so, so joyous in some of those memories of this truly wonderful woman. The 1,500 guests are now leaving the St. Martin's Episcopal Church, in Houston.
We're going to continue our special coverage right after a quick break.
[13:47:35] BLITZER: In his eulogy for his mother, Jeb Bush, understandably, got emotional.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR & SON OF BARBARA BUSH: We learned a lot more from our mom and our Ganny. We learned not to take ourselves too seriously. We learned humor is a joy that should be shared. Some of my greatest memories are participating in our family dinners when mom would get into it, most of the time with George W., as you might imagine, and having us all laughing to tears. We learned to strive to be genuine and authentic by the best role model in the world. Her authentic plastic pearls. Her not coloring her hair. By the way, she was beautiful until the day she died. Her hugging of an HIV/AIDS patient at a time when her own mother wouldn't do it. Her standing by her man with a little rhyming poetry in the 1984 election. And in a thousand other ways Barbara pierce Bush was real. And that's why people admired her and loved her so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And, Kristan, you were pretty emotional when you heard that as well.
NEVINS: Yes, it was hard to listen to. Because I just had all of these flashes of Mrs. Bush going through my mind. And her realness. She was never one without an opinion. She would certainly give her opinion, even if you didn't ask for it. Often at a moment when you weren't expecting it and be caught off guard. However, her love would also come through. I think that was something at that moment Governor Bush was trying to get through his own memories.
Our special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, was inside the church during the service.
Give us your thoughts, Jamie.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First, I would say Barbara Bush is really happy. The service was all about the things she cares about. We've heard it over and over, faith, family, and friends. There was a lot of laughter. But as Kristan said, there were many emotional moments when former President George W. Bush, her son, wheeled, pushed her husband in in the wheelchair. I don't think there was a dry eye in the House. I don't think I have any makeup left anymore. My face from crying when her grandsons were pallbearers and brought in the casket. It was very emotional. and when the letter was read, I believe Jon Meacham read one of President Bush's favorite letters. It was a letter he had sent to Mrs. Bush on their anniversary, about, will you marry me? It just -- you know, it hit everyone very, very hard. So there were a lot of laughs. It was emotional. It was classic Barbara Bush. And it -- you know, the one thing that was said today was if she had one shortcoming, she wasn't patient. Everything went off on time. She would have been happy about that, too -- Wolf?
[13:50:50] BLITZER: She certainly would have been happy. You think her thoughts of this funeral would have been, bottom line, what, Jamie?
GANGEL: Well, I think she would have had a good laugh at all of us who wore Navy blue and pearls in her honor. But I really think that she helped plan this funeral. It was what she wanted. It was very traditional. But it absolutely memorialized the woman she was, that no nonsense. Her sense of humor. As her son, Jeb said, that she ran the house as a benevolent dictatorship, but sometimes it wasn't so benevolent. As I've said earlier, the word "authentic" applies to Barbara Bush, and that was certainly reflected here today.
BLITZER: Talk a little bit, Jamie, about the two Bush presidents who were there, the relationship that they showed.
GANGEL: It was -- look, this is father and son, and it's -- they're very close. I think that, you know, they like to joke about how people psychoanalyze their relationship, but they are very, very close to each other. I think this was an extraordinarily hard day for them. President Bush, her husband, this is a heartbreaking time for him, and everyone in the family is worried about him. There's no question. On the other hand, they are the first to be gracious, and the family immediately told the story about Barbara Bush's final days when their reverend came to visit them at home and President Bush said go upstairs and pray with Barbara, and he went upstairs and knocked on the door, and Barbara Bush said, I'm not dead yet, go downstairs and pray with George. So it's that remarkable balance of -- that they have of being gracious and down to earth. And yet, just a heartbreaking time for the family.
BLITZER: And knowing the family as well as you do, Jamie, how do you think President Bush, 93 years old, is now holding up?
GANGEL: You know, he's been -- Mrs. Bush was ready to go. She was at peace, and she told her family that. She had said I'm tired. She was really suffering from this COPD and the congestive heart failure, and she said she -- it was time. And we know that in her final days she didn't want to go back to the hospital. She didn't want extraordinary measures taken. Her husband has said the last couple of times even I've seen him, and he says this to everybody, I'm going to live to 102, or I'm going to live to 105. He's still out there, and with great energy, despite the fact that he suffers from Parkinson's, and is in the chair. That said, they're so close, 73 years of marriage. Such an extraordinary relationship. Everyone is worried about what it's going to be like for him now that Barbara Bush is gone.
BLITZER: Because wherever he goes, whether he stays in Texas or goes to Kennebunkport, Maine, there are going to be so many memories there of Barbara Bush.
GANGEL: Right. But let's not forget this big, wonderful family he has. His son, Neil, lives right across the street from him. The grandchildren are around. They spend a lot of time together. I know he's looking forward to going to Maine in May where the grandchildren and the children come. So he will be surrounded by family. But no question. The love of his life is not going to be there, and it's going to be a hard time.
[13:55:12] BLITZER: A truly, truly emotional, very, very extraordinary day. We've been watching it unfold a day all of us won't forget for a very, very long time.
That's it for me. Thanks very much to all of our reporters, all of our contributors.
Our special coverage will continue here on CNN on NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.