For many families, grandmothers are the planet everyone else revolves around. They're the ones who bring us together, the ones who hold our family history and show us how the impact of motherhood extends far beyond the babies in our arms.
Losing a grandmother can be incredibly hard, as mom-of-two Jenna Bush Hager recently experienced when her own grandmother, Barbara Bush, passed away at 92 years old.
The Today correspondent penned a letter to her late grandmother, which she read on air while updating America on how former President George H.W. Bush is dealing with the loss of his wife of 73 years.
"You are our family's rock, the glue that held us together," she read, a statement so many grieving granddaughters can relate to. "We called you the enforcer. It was because you were a force and you wrote the rules. Your rules were simple: treat everyone equally, don't look down on anyone, use your voices for good, read all the great books."
Bush Hager recalls a moment that many of us have had with our own grandmothers: A scolding that changed how she saw the world, and how she moves within in.
"I will never forget when Barbara and I as 7-year-olds snuck to the [White House] bowling alley and ordered presidential peanut butter sandwiches. We couldn't wait for someone to deliver what was sure to be the fanciest sandwich of our lives when you opened the door, scolding us, telling us under no circumstances could we order food in the White House again, this was not a hotel. You taught us humility and grace."
Recalling more recent moments with the woman she called 'Ganny,' Bush Hager describes a matriarch who loved spending time with all 17 of her raucous grandchildren, even when they jumped over her in the swimming pool or created a soapy mess in the hot tub.
For Bush Hager, letters like the one she read on television are an important part of her grandmother's legacy. She plans to pass down the love letters her grandmother exchanged with former President George H.W. Bush to her own daughters, so that they can someday understand the love the planted the roots their family grew from.
A different kind of love letter, a recent email between grandmother and granddaughter, is also an important part of the story Bush Hager will pass on. "The subject line read: YOU. In the body of the email you wrote: 'I am watching you. I love you. Ganny.' Well, Ganny we have spent our lives watching you. Your words inspired us, your actions an example to follow."
The world will remember Barbara Bush as a First Lady, an advocate for literacy and those living with HIV, and an icon, but to her granddaughter, she was just Ganny.
For those who have lost their own Ganny, Nana, Granny or Grandma, Bush Hager's letter highlights an essential truth: We may be mothers ourselves now, but we will always be your granddaughters. And we will always remember you.