George H.W. Bush turned 88 on Tuesday, and the former president teared up during an interview with his granddaughter, "Today" show contributor Jenna Bush Hager, broadcast on the NBC morning show.
"I never thought I'd get this part in chronology," the elder Bush said in the interview, taped over the weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine.
"What's aging like?" Jenna Bush asked her grandfather.
"Aging is all right," Bush replied. "Better than the alternative, not being here."
The one-term president said it was a "terrible, awful feeling" to lose to Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election.
[Slideshow: Portrait unveiling for George W. Bush]
"I really wanted to win and worked hard," Bush said. "Later on, people said, 'Well, he didn't really care,' which is crazy. I worked my heart out."
The tears came when Bush 41 shared a letter he had written to the family reflecting on his life:
As the summers finish out, and the seas get a little higher, winds a little colder, I'll be making some notes, writing it down lest I forget so I can add to the report on getting older. Who knows, maybe they will come out with a new drug that makes legs bend easier, joints hurt less, drives go farther, memory come roaring back and all fears about falling off fishing rafts go away. Remember the old song, 'I'll be there ready when you are'? Well, I'll be there, ready when you are, because there's so much excitement ahead, so many grandkids to watch grow. If you need me, I'm here. Devotedly, Dad.
"I'm trying not to cry," Jenna Bush said in the "Today" studio after watching the taped interview. "The good news is my grandfather says he's not done skydiving. Yes, his next goal, jumping out of a plane on his 90th."
The 41st president famously went skydiving to mark his 85th birthday in 2009.
In an interview with Charlie Rose on "CBS This Morning" last week, former Florida governor Jeb Bush revealed that his father can no longer walk on his own, relying on a stroller and wheelchair instead.
"He can't walk," Jeb Bush said. "That's hard for a guy that's been so vital and vigorous in life."