Jenna Bush Hager's daughters, Mila and Poppy Louise, spent precious time with the former president in his final years

By Emily Zauzmer
December 03, 2018 10:26 AM
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Jenna Bush Hager is feeling grateful that her daughters got to know their great-grandfather George H.W. Bush before the former President died at age 94 on Friday.

Jenna’s daughters Margaret Laura, “Mila,” 5, and Poppy Louise, 3, spent precious time with Bush in his final years.

“What a gift that my girls got to know our Gampy,” Jenna, 37, wrote on Instagram on Monday. “What an honor that we could name our Poppy after such a principled, humble, kind man who we all loved fiercely and who loved us back.”

When Poppy was born, Jenna and her husband Henry Hager elaborated on their daughter’s name in a statement. “Poppy is named after Jenna’s grandfather,” the statement said. “His nickname growing up was Poppy, and we are proud to name her after a man we so adore.”

Jenna concluded her Instagram tribute with a quote from a letter that Bush once wrote. “I read this letter—he wrote us—with new eyes,” she said. “Remember the old song? ‘I’ll be there, ready when you are?’ Well, I’ll be there, ready when you are. And if you need me, I’m here. Devotedly, Dad.”

In her post, Jenna shared a slideshow of photos featuring Bush and his family. Sweet pictures from Jenna’s twin Barbara Bush’s wedding in October showed Bush with flower girls Mila and Poppy.

Others snapshots included Bush and his late wife Barbara Bush posing with former President George W. Bush‘s family, Bush delivering a speech as the former first lady looked on, Bush and Mrs. Bush relaxing with their grandchildren in a bed, and Bush joyfully holding his great-granddaughter.

On Today on Monday, Jenna continued to mourn her grandfather by providing touching narration over interviews she conducted about and with Bush.

“My grandfather wrote letters all his life to his children, his wife, friends and even political rivals,” she said. “He often wrote about love and family. For me, his words have always been a precious gift, all the more so now. It’s my turn to write a love letter to my Gampy.”

“My grandfather always said his greatest gift was his family,” Jenna continued. “Whatever demands were placed on him in his professional life, and there were many, we all knew we could count on him. He made each of us feel adored always. He was our rock.”

In one sweet moment in the footage, Bush sang to baby Mila as she sat on his lap.

“My children will always know how special my grandfather is to us because we will never let them forget, and they will cherish too all those letters: their great-grandfather in his own words,” she concluded.

On Saturday, Jenna offered her first comment on Bush’s death.

“Waking up missing this giant of a man who gave me everything,” she said. “He taught me and my family about service, family, decency, the power of gentle words and a beautiful heart. I will miss him desperately but so happy he and my Grandmother are back together.”

Later in the day, Jenna posted a cartoon of Bush reuniting with Mrs. Bush and their daughter Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia, in heaven. “This brought me such comfort this morning,” she wrote.