WASHINGTON (CNN) - One night before their son turns the White House over to Barack Obama, a melancholy former President George Herbert Walker Bush and his wife Barbara made an impromptu visit to the press briefing room on Monday and chatted with reporters about how much they will miss the building they have called home on and off for a couple of decades.
"We will miss coming and going, but it's time to move on," said the former President, who has been a frequent visitor during his son's two terms in office. "The Bushes are going to a happy life."
When a reporter suggested perhaps former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will take the White House back someday, the former President smiled, "Maybe Jeb will do something. I'd like to see him try."
The former First Lady said the hardest part of the night is saying good-bye to the White House residence staff a second time in just over a decade. "In tears twice," she said, her eyes still visibly red.
But Mrs. Bush, who appeared to be in good health after a recent stay in the hospital, added that she and her husband are looking forward to attending Obama's inauguration. "Very exciting day," she predicted.
In addition to the Inaugural, the former First Family is attending a final dinner at the White House with current President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and their two daughters, Barbara and Jenna.
As the former First Family left the briefing room, some reporters and photographers spontaneously started clapping out of respect. The ex-President, who was using a long walking stick to get around, quipped, "You didn't clap when I was President, what the hell is going on?"