George H.W. Bush aide gives health update: ‘Put the harps back in the closet’ - UPDATED

By Daniel S Levine,

Former President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff gave an update on his health, telling his family and friends to ‘put the harps away’ and that he has no plans on going anywhere soon.

Bush’s aide Jean Becker wrote in the email that the 41st president could be at Methodist Hospital in Houston for “a while,” reports CBS News. “He is 88 years old, he had a terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a series of complications, partially brought on by the fact that he also has a form of Parkinson's disease,” she explained.

She continued, “Is he sick? Yes. Does he plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of staying put,” noting that Bush “would ask me to tell you to please put the harps back in the closet.”

There were hopes that Bush, who has been hospitalized since last month, would be able to spend Christmas at home. However, a spokesman on Wednesday said that he was moved to the intensive care unit.

Becker wrote that the oldest living president was receiving treatment “unequaled anywhere” at the hospital. She concluded, “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.”

Spokesman Jim McGrath told The AP Thursday that another statement would be released “when events warrant it.”

Bush, who was president during the Persian Gulf War, released a statement late Thursday when the death of retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf was announced, reports Reuters. Schwarzkopf, who led the military against Saddam Hussein, was 78.

Bush said that he and his wife “mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation.”

UPDATE: McGrath sent another statement to the media Friday, noting that Bush is still in the ICU but "continues to improve," reports Reuters. "The president is alert and, as always, in good spirits -- and his exchanges with doctors and nurses now include singing."

McGrath adds that the doctors are "cautiously optimistic that the current course of treatment will be effective" and that the Bush family thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers.

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