Barbara Bush Sipped Bourbon Night Before Her Death: 'She Was Answering All of Her Phone Calls'

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Barbara Bush, in what her spokesman called failing health, had traded further medical treatments for comfort care at home —that included the “alert” 92-year-old former first lady enjoying phone calls, conversation and bourbon.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Office of George H. W. Bush confirmed her death, saying in a statement, “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.”

Hours before her death, the Bushes’ longtime friend Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, who was White House counsel to Barbara’s husband of 73 years, former president George H.W. Bush, told PEOPLE: “Some of the recent emails indicate she is not quite ready to sign off. She’s answering all of her phone calls herself.”

And a source close to the Bush family told CBS News reporter Jenna Gibson on Tuesday that, while Barbara’s chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) made breathing difficult, “she is alert and was having conversations last night. She was also having a bourbon.”

On Sunday, a family spokesman announced that Bush decided not to seek additional medical treatment despite her “failing health.”

Bush has a lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, according to numerous reports.

Bush has long been known for her strength, and her family calls her “The Enforcer.”

In a statement Sunday from the office of the former president, spokesman Jim McGrath said that Bush is not thinking of herself but others:

“It will not surprise those who know her that Barbara Bush has been a rock in the face of her failing health, worrying not for herself — thanks to her abiding faith — but for others. She is surrounded by a family she adores, and appreciates the many kind messages and especially the prayers she is receiving.”

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