George H.W. Bush reflects on aging and the importance of family in letter to his children

Although there have been countless books written about him – by everyone from his wife and his son to historians and former aides – President George H.W. Bush never penned a proper memoir.

Unlike some of his Oval Office predecessors, and all of his successors, the 41st president of the United States never put pen to pad to tell his life story -- despite living a colorful and historic life that saw him, among other things, become a decorated Navy pilot in World War II, head the CIA, help bring about the end of the Cold War and watch his son be sworn-in as president.

Instead of writing a memoir, Bush sent letters and kept a diary from the age of 18, where he laid down his thoughts about everything from family and love to life and aging. With his passing on Friday at the age of 94, Bush’s presidential library is releasing excerpts from his letters and diaries as a tribute to his life and legacy.

In the first of the series, Bush wrote in a letter to his children, dated September 1998, about aging: “Last year there was only a tiny sense of time left, of sand running through the glass.”

Bush continued: “I want to put this aging on hold for a while now. I don’t expect to be on the A-team anymore, but I want to play golf with you and I want to fish or throw shoes and I want to rejoice in your victories and I want to be there for you if you get a bad bounce in life and no doubt you will for the seas do indeed get rough.”

The former president went on to talk about being “viscerally involved” in the life of his children. Bush had six children: former President George W. Bush, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, author Dorothy Bush Koch, businessmen Neil and Marvin Bush, and Robin, who died at age 3 of leukemia.

In his letter, Bush also joked with his family about getting emotional in his old age and talks about living a happy life.

“If I shed tears easier now, try not to laugh at me, because I’ll lose more saline and that makes me feel like a sissy,” Bush wrote. “And besides, it’s okay to cry if you’re a man, a happy man, me. All Bushes cry easily when we’re happy or counting our blessings or sad.”

In a video to accompany the excerpt, Bush’s presidential library cobbled together videos of the former president and his family playing horseshoes, riding in a speedboat and enjoying meals at their estate in Kennebunkport, Maine.

“Remember the old song ‘I’ll Be There Ready When You Are,’” Bush wrote. “Well, I’ll be there ready when you are where there is so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. If you need me, I’m here. Devotedly, Dad.”

Bush will be buried Thursday at the Bush Library Center, according to officials. The Bush family is still arranging funeral services, but the White House said President Trump and first lady Melania Trump plan to attend.