It began with the untimely death of three-year-old Robin Bush.

By Meghan Overdeep
December 03, 2018
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Bush Family Kennebunkport
Credit: Getty Images

It's a phrase that's been exchanged between members of the Bush family for generations. In times of great pride and pain.

"I love you more than tongue can tell."

Those eight words, plucked from an old children's poem by Joy Allison, were reportedly some of the last ones Robin—the daughter of George H.W. and Barbara who passed away from leukemia at age three—said to her father before her untimely death.

"Dad would repeat those words for the rest of his life," George W. wrote in 41: A Portrait of My Father. He included it in letters to sons Jeb and George W. at important political moments in their lives.

WATCH: George Bush Reportedly Said This to Barbara Every Night During Their 73 Years of Marriage

And when George H.W. passed away peacefully at the age of 94, his granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager used it in a moving online tribute to her beloved Gampy. "Robin was the daughter this giant of a man lost years before to leukemia," Hager concluded in a heartfelt caption written alongside a cartoon of the departed Bushes reuniting in heaven. "The little girl he held tightly: who spoke the phrase I have heard Gampy repeat for my entire life, forever knitting Robin's voice into the tightly woven fabric of our family: ‘I love you more than tongue can tell.'"

Rest in peace, 41.