"I love you," the 41st president told his son

By Sam Gillette
December 03, 2018 02:42 PM

For the Bush family, “I love you” are deeply significant words that have been expressed in milestone moments.

Before former President George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday, his last words were to his son, former President George W. Bush.

“I love you, too,” he told George W., 72, according to James Baker, the senior Bush’s longtime friend and former secretary of state, the New York Times reported in a story about the 41st president’s final days.

Ironically, it’s the same endearing phrase he used when his son became the 43rd president, George W. told 60 Minutes in an interview that aired Sunday.

“You know, my favorite story about all that is I just gotten sworn in and Andy Card said, ‘Why don’t you go down to the Oval and see what it feels like as president?'” said George W., looking back at his 2001 inauguration. “And I said, ‘Okay.’ So I went down, sitting down there and just kind of taking it all in and in walks dad.”

David Hume Kennerly/Getty

The 43rd president continued, “So Andy had told dad that I was down there. And he walks down and I said, ‘Mr. President — welcome.’ He said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.’ And that’s pretty much all that was said for a while. And it was a very profound moment for me.”

“What did he say to you when you [became] president?” asked CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell.

“‘I love you.’ And, you know, as corny as that sounds to some — it is the most important words you can hear in life,” George W. said.

He went on to joke, “You don’t hear a lot of people say ‘I love you’ when you’re president.”

David Hume Kennerly/Getty

Their final “I love you” came shortly before George H.W.’s death. While he was surrounded by a few friends and family members at his Houston home on Friday, his son George W. was put on speaker phone to share one last moment with his father, Baker told the Times. George W. told his father what a “wonderful” dad he had been and that he loved him, prompting the sweet reply.

When George H.W.’s death was announced Friday night, George W. wrote a message on Instagram that reflects the great love he has for him.

“George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for,” the former president wrote, including a photo of his father and mother, the late Barbara Bush, who died at age 92 in April. “The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for the 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”