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President George H. W. Bush held wife Barbara Bush’s hand to the end

Former President George H.W. Bush, left, and former first lady Barbara Bush at their son's commencement address at Texas A&M University's winter convocation Friday, Dec. 12, 2008, in College Station, Texas. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

George H. W. Bush, the former president and husband of Barbara Bush, is heartbroken and held her hand for hours on the day she died, a spokeswoman for Bush says.

The 41st president himself suffers from a debilitating, Parkinson’s-like disease that forces him to use a wheelchair and makes speaking difficult.

“Many of you are asking ‘How is 41,'” his spokeswoman Jean Becker said in a statement. “He, of course, is broken-hearted to lose his beloved Barbara, his wife of 73 years. He held her hand all day today and was at her side when (she) left this good earth.”

Becker added that the former president, 93, was “stoic and strong” and was comforted by his large, supportive family. “He is determined to be there for them as well,” she said.

Barbara Bush died Tuesday, two days after the family announced she had decided to discontinue treatment for her declining health. Her death prompted an outpouring of social media love from family members.

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Among them, her son and former President George W. Bush.

“My dear mother has passed on at age 92,” he wrote on Instagram. “Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was.”

Bush went on to describe his mother as a “fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.” But to the family she was much more, he wrote.

“Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end,” he said. “I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

Family spokesman Jim McGrath announced her death Sunday evening on Twitter: “A former first lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92.”

Jenna Hager Bush, George W. Bush’s daughter, posted a photo of herself as a young child with her grandmother, who she sometimes referred to as Gans or Ganny, and her grandfather.

“I already miss this FORCE of a woman — the “enforcer” because she was the glue that held our family together,” Jenna Hager Bush wrote. “She taught me to use my voice but also to value the opinions of others. She adored her friends and family; her loyalty was unwavering.

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“Humor helps, she often said and it does, Gans, but I will miss your laugh terribly.”

She noted that her grandmother adored “Gampy, the first man she ever kissed.”

“Thinking of my Gampy tonight —no doubt missing his beloved desperately. Gans, people stopped me all the time to tell me how much they loved you. I didn’t mind sharing you with them. I love you more than tongue can tell, my Ganny.

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© 2018 USA Today

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