New book details final touching moment between George H.W. and Barbara Bush

The remarkable love story between George and Barbara Bush started at a dance when both were in high school. It ended nearly eight decades later, just like many of their days together as a couple, holding hands.

When the former first lady passed away last year, her husband of 73 years remained by her side, according to a family spokesman. But details of one of the last conversations the pair are revealed in a new biography, "The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty."

The couple sat in the den of their Houston home holding hands, according to author Susan Page.

"They gave each other permission — for her to die, for him to live," Page writes. '"I'm not going to worry about you, Bar,' George Bush told her. 'I'm not going to worry about you, George,' she told him."

Then, they each had a drink: a bourbon for her, and a vodka martini for him — their favorites.

Barbara Bush died two days later.

The former first lady, who had long struggled with congestive heart failure and pulmonary disease, was 92. Her husband died less than eight months later, at age 94, on Nov. 30, 2018.

Their 77-year union made them the longest-married couple in presidential history. The pair met in 1941 at a Christmas dance, where the future president was introduced by his nickname Poppy. They became pen pals as each returned to school, Barbara to her South Carolina boarding school and George to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

George would go on to ask Barbara to his senior prom, where he kissed her on the cheek, "in front of the whole world," she would remember.

"I floated into my room and kept the poor girl I was rooming with awake all night while I made her listen to how Poppy Bush was the greatest living human on the face of the earth," Barbara Bush recalled in her biography.

36 PHOTOS
Hundreds gather to pay their last respects to former first lady Barbara Bush
See Gallery
Hundreds gather to pay their last respects to former first lady Barbara Bush
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush attends the funeral service for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, with his son the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: The casket of former first lady Barbara Bush is moved after a funeral service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Pallbearers move casket of former first lady Barbara Bush after a funeral service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., gives a sermon during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. David J. Phillip/Pool via Reuters
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Jenna Bush Hager speaks during the funeral for her grandmother and former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Jenna Bush Hager speaks during a funeral service for her grandmother, former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush, during a funeral service for her grandmother and former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Susan Baker speaks during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Jon Meacham speaks during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush places his hand on the casket of his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush during a funeral service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr. gives a sermon during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Attendees gather at St. Martin's Episcopal Church during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: The casket is brought into St. Martin's Episcopal Church during the funeral for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: First Lady Melania Trump arrives at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21:Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama greet first lady Melania Trump at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Accompanied by his wife, Hillary Clinton,left, former President Bill Clinton arrives at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former President George H.W. Bush, assisted by his son, former President George W. Bush, enter the church during the funeral for former First Lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former Presidents George W. Bush, left, and George H.W. Bush arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Buson April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Dorothy 'Doro' Bush Koch, right, comforts former President George H. W. Bush during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush comforts his father, former President George H.W. Bush during a funeral service for his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and his wife Rev. Kathleene Card arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and his wife Rev. Kathleene Card arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, left, talks to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner as they arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
Detailed view of a program during the funeral for former First Lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. Jack Gruber/Pool via Reuters
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Brett Coomer - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Mourners attend during a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Attendees arrive at St. Martin's Episcopal Church for a funeral service for former first lady Barbara Bush on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords arrives for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Astronaut Mark Kelly arrive at the funeral service of former first lady Barbara Bush, at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson
Singer William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys arrives at the funeral service of former first lady Barbara Bush, at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Mourners arrive for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Mourners begin arriving for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 21: Mourners begin arriving for the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church on April 21, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Bush, wife of former president George H. W. Bush and mother of former president George W. Bush, died at her home in Houston on April 17 at the age of 92. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush attends the funeral service for his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, with his son the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, U.S., April 21, 2018. REUTERS/Richard Carson
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The couple got married in 1945 in Rye, New York.

"I couldn't breathe when I was in the room with him; that's how I knew I was in love," Bush told Page, USA Today's Washington bureau chief and whom she gave access to decades worth of personal diaries.

At the time of their interview, the former first lady's health was failing. She was dependent on oxygen and struggled with her congestive heart failure and chronic lung disease, but she maintained her famously wry sense of humor.

"Here I am, back to not breathing again," she said.

Shortly before she died, she had written a brief post for the alumnae magazine of her alma mater, Smith College. (She had dropped out of the Massachusetts college in 1944 to get married, but the college awarded her an honorary degree decades later.)

The former first lady, in her usual blunt manner, declared: "I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.