Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Devoted husband, loving father...AND....a great President

"What can you say about a man, who on Mother's Day sends flowers to his mother-in-law, with a note thanking her for making him the happiest man on Earth?"- Nancy Reagan

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.

Dear Mike:

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.

Love, Dad.

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.

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Blogger Mike's America said...

Superb work! This will make a great addition to the human story side of things in our commemoration.

I should be able to get excerpts up on Tuesday.

For some reason, I can't seem to get photos and text imbedded the way you do. Not sure why. I can embed one at the top of a post, but if I go to add another, blogger puts it at the top too.

Monday, January 16, 2006 9:22:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks, Mike. I'm quite touched by my post, if I do say so myself.

Mike, the same thing happens for me. What you need to do is just click and drag the photo down to where you want it.

It's rather challenging sometimes; easiest thing to do is tweak things around in html mode. I bounce back and forth, until things look kind of right. Sometimes it's just plain weird and confusing, but it is what it is.

Monday, January 16, 2006 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Great post!
Ron rocks!!!

I wish we had another...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 7:59:00 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Thank you for another human viewpoint on one of the best Presidents that the United States has ever had. Wish we had another one just like him.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 5:12:00 PM  
Anonymous skye said...


A love story for the ages.

When I grow up, this is the relationship I want to have :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 7:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Beautiful post, WS.

Absolutely beautiful!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 7:39:00 PM  
Blogger skye said...

Ohh...I get chills (the good kind) reading this..

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 7:40:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Skye...I hope you find that relationship!

I'm glad you guys like this post. I certainly agree that it is beautiful, Mary. I never tire in re-reading that letter.

I certainly hope to be the kind of husband that Ronald Reagan spoke of in that letter, if I ever find the love of my life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Wordsmith, your post is by far one of the best in the celebration! I got tears in my eyes reading your tribute to Nancy as she stayed by his side through Alzheimer's and his not knowing her or remembering their love (reminded me of "The Notebook"!).

Ron's PS in his letter to Michael, well that was one of the bits of advice I got from my Mom before I got married. The other...never go to bed angry at each other. (20 years for us in September.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006 9:56:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I'm glad you liked the post, Anna. It certainly moves me as well. And I would think the post should be beyond partisan politics and just an example of what a love story and romance these two great Americans enjoyed. And what an example they set for love and marriage!

Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I'm glad your marriage is going strong, btw, Anna! Good for you!

I know a couple of kids whose parents are divorcing, and they are so scared and confused. It is heartbreaking!

Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. Tears of sadness for his illness and death; tears of joy at his beautiful mind. I don't know too many people who have had the same kind of relationship my husband and I have had for 46 years. Thank you for this wonderful post!

Friday, January 20, 2006 6:16:00 AM  
Blogger Revka said...

Great post! Thanks.. Brought tears to my eyes.. What a love they shared. WOW! Yes, this is the kind of love story i would go and see in the theatres.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 4:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Flag Gazer said...

Came by from Mike's Wordloom -
This is an amazing post! I'd never read that letter before - WOW!
Thank you for finding it and sharing it!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007 1:34:00 PM  

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