"Put the harps back in the closet." A feisty, direct quote from America's 41st president delivered from his bed at Houston's Methodist Hospital.
For 32 days, the 88-year-old former commander-in-chief has remained within its walls, battling bronchitis and variety of complications, including persistent fever.
On Sunday, it became known that his illness intensified to a level warranting "intensive care," a unit where George Herbert Walker Bush remains in what a spokesman calls "guarded condition."
Nearly a third of Americans weren't yet born when Bush "the elder" last served in the Oval office.
Some may wonder why so many care so deeply about his welfare. University of St. Thomas professor Rick Sindelar served in the state department under Bush and says the former president was "the stage master" who truly orchestrated the collapse of the Soviet empire and the re-unification of Germany.
"He and President Reagan, to my way of thinking, formed a team that basically changed the world," said Sindelar. "He always had a steady hand on the tiller. That was it. He wasn't a splashy president or a splashy leader, but he knew how to have a steady hand on the tiller and he knew how to work his contacts to get things done."
Mark Jones, chairman of political science at Rice University, says the 41st president pioneered laws which delivered meaningful and lasting improvement to the lives of millions of Americans.
"On the domestic side he implemented such legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act, one which was considered the civil rights legislation for those with disabilities and the other which had a profound impact on our environment," Jones said. "This is a president who gave his life to public service."
READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW:
Someday President George H.W. Bush might realize how beloved he is, but of course one of the reasons why he is so beloved is because he has no idea.
Most of the civilized world emailed/called/texted yesterday after we released this statement to the media:
HOUSTON -- Following is a statement by Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath.
"Following a series of setbacks including a persistent fever, President Bush was admitted to the intensive care unit at Methodist Hospital on Sunday where he remains in guarded condition. Doctors at Methodist continue to be cautiously optimistic about the current course of treatment. The President is alert and conversing with medical staff, and is surrounded by family."
We had been resisting putting out a statement for a couple of reasons: 1) Out of respect for President Bush and the Bush family who, like most of us, prefer to deal with health issues in privacy; and 2) because he is so beloved we knew everyone would overreact.
I am reminded of the line in the movie "A Few Good Men," when Jack Nicholson yells at Tom Cruise: "You can't handle the truth." (That was supposed to make you laugh ...)
So here is what you need to know:
• Yes, President Bush is in ICU where he is getting the best medical care in the world. We know you all have great doctors/hospitals where you live, but I can assure you that the healthcare he is getting at Methodist Hospital in Texas Medical is unequaled anywhere.
• Is he sick? Yes. Does he plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of staying put. He would ask me to tell you to please "put the harps back in the closet."
• Will he be in the hospital for a while? Yes. He is 88 years old, he had a terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a series of complications.
• Is there anything you can do? Yes, of course. Keep him and the family in your prayers. I am thinking heaven has not seen such a barrage of prayer intentions since "It's a Wonderful Life."
I hope you all know how much your love, concern, and support are appreciated.
Last but not least: The other thing you can do for President Bush is laugh, since he is the funniest person we'll ever know.