A mixture of laughter and tears filled St Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, yesterday as family and friends celebrated the life of Barbara Bush who died last week at the age of 92.
The former first lady’s son Jeb Bush delivered an emotional eulogy describing her as the best role model in the world.
Jeb said that his mother taught him and his siblings "the importance of things like saying 'please' and 'thank you' and eating their broccoli," jokingly adding that her students weren’t always perfect, “and that’s an understatement.”
“She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly it wasn’t always benevolent,” he explained to the crowd of about 1,500 at the private funeral.
But Barbara, who was known as “the enforcer” in her family for her tough love, was also known for being genuine and authentic. Jeb spoke lovingly of her signature look, a statement plastic pearl necklace and the fact that she didn’t color her hair, choking up when he added: “She was beautiful till the day she died.”
Tears really started flowing when the former Florida governor focused on his parents’ 73-year marriage.
Ninety-three-year-old George H.W. Bush, who was wearing book-themed socks to pay homage to his wife’s commitment to literacy, cried as Jeb shared a beautiful letter he wrote to her on their 49th wedding anniversary.
Granddaughters Noelle Lucila Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Marshall Lloyd Bush Rossi, Nancy LeBlond Sosa, Ashley Walker Bush and Georgia Grace Koch took turns delivering a reading of proverbs.
Fighting back tears, Jenna read from Proverbs 31:25-28, saying: "Strength and dignity are her clothing (...) she opens her mouth with wisdom; and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue."
The TODAY correspondent, who shared a touching letter last week with TODAY saying goodbye to her beloved “Ganny,” fought through the tears to read her part.
Others paying their respects at the funeral included former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as current first lady Melania Trump who called Barbara a “fearless First Lady” in an earlier statement.
As family, friends and the nation mourn the loss of the former first lady, Jeb shared an uplifting anecdote about her last days.
“The last time I was with her, I asked her about dying. Was she ready to go? Was she sad?" he said. Without missing a beat, she said, ‘Jeb, I believe in Jesus. He is my savior. I don’t want to leave your dad but I know I’ll be in a beautiful place.’”