Devoted husband, loving father...AND....a great President
Many great posts can be found over at Mike's America, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's first inauguration. I'll leave it to others to point out his great accomplishments as our 40th President. What I'd like to do, is just make a brief mention of him as devout family man.
One of the things that has always stood out, is his devotion to his 2nd wife, Nancy Reagan. And in the twilight of his years, as his mind faded into oblivion, Nancy did not abandon him, but remained absolutely devoted to her husband, through his sickness as she had in his health, to the end of his days. When he learned of his illness, Ronald Reagan expressed the following:
"I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer's disease... I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience."
10 years, she suffered alongside him. This is what Nancy said, upon the passing of this great leader, and loving husband:
"If a death can be peaceful and lovely, that one was. And when it came down to what we knew was the end, and I was on one side of the bed with Ron, and Patty was on the other side, and Ronnie all of a sudden turned his head and looked at me and opened his eyes and just looked … Well, what a gift he gave me at that point... I learned a lot from Ronnie, while he was sick — a lot. I learned patience. I learned how to accept something that was given to you, and how to die."- ABC News
It's reported that throughout their life together, they always walked hand in hand; and often left love notes for one another. As a press secretary put it, "They never took each other for granted. They never stopped courting."
Ronald Reagan seemed to possess the same kind of charm, likeability, and eloquence in his writings as he did in his public speaking. I wanted to find a love letter to share with you. The following, is a favorite of mine...not to Nancy, but to his son, Michael. A father's loving advice to his son. It is the first letter that Ronald Reagan wrote to Michael Reagan just before the latter was to be married.
You've heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the "unhappy marrieds" and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.
Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn't know won't hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three a.m., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame.
There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out. Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back on an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn't take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick, and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music.
If you truly love a girl, you shouldn't ever want her to feel, when she sees you greet a secretary or a girl you both know, that humiliation of wondering if she was someone who caused you to be late coming home, nor should you want any other woman to be able to meet your wife and know she was smiling behind her eyes as she looked at her, the woman you love, remembering this was the woman you rejected even momentarily for her favors.
Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.
P.S. You'll never get in trouble if you say "I love you" at least once a day.
Reagan Library for photos.
About marriage on Ronald and Nancy, for quotes.