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I lost my father, America lost a hero
The Sunday Times ^ | June 13, 2004 | Patti Davis

Posted on 06/12/2004 5:08:29 PM PDT by MadIvan

Patti Davis famously fell out with her father Ronald Reagan, but was reconciled with him before his death. She was at his side when he died a week ago. Here she describes his final days, and the gap his departure has left in the life of her family

June 3

My father is dying. Only a few days left now. Maybe a week. Maybe his soul is already gone. It looks like that — blue chalk eyes, more like a child’s drawing then real eyes. No life in them, just existence.

Its been 10 years since the diagnosis. Alzheimer’s. A disease that arrives with death as its soulmate. I thought I was prepared. So many waves of grief have crashed over me during these years. But now I think there is another diving-down place that’s still waiting for me.

Two days ago my father’s eyes stopped opening at all; his hand is as pale as the blanket covering him and sometimes his breath just stops as seconds pass by and I wonder and hold my own breath. My father is dying and it feels like I’ve never thought about it before. Even though I’ve been living with the thought for a decade.

My father’s voice fell silent weeks ago. Until then the sound of his voice hummed through the room sometimes — not with words, but maybe they were words to him. I said to my mother, maybe he’s getting us used to the silence.

She lives with all that silence, with the ticking by of minutes and the knowledge that death has to be better than ragged breathing and chalk-blue eyes.

Her husband is dying. The man she loved for 52 years. Here is a snapshot of the waiting: a daughter holding her mother while she weeps, tears staining skin, a body shaking with so much pain you think if you were at the centre of the Earth you could probably feel it.

My mother is tiny, her weight against me light, the back of her head is cupped in my hand. But her grief is huge and so heavy it pulls on the joints of my body. It will be okay, I tell her. But I have no idea if it will be.

His death will be a big unwieldy one — a world event. Press stories and news specials and foreign dignitaries arriving in America in black clothes with typed-up eulogies in their pockets. We will grab onto the massive grief around us and go home at night to the shape of grief inside us.

June 6

My father has died. Five of us were there — my mother, (brother) Ron, me, the doctor and the Irish nurse whose lilting voice always made him smile. We waited through the foggy morning, into the midday sunlight. An intimate vigil, a bond formed that no one will forget. The room was filled with whispers, shared stories, soft laughter over fond memories. Silence, as we measured my father’s breathing.

At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn’t opened for days did, and they weren’t chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of love, and then they closed with his last breath.

If a death can be lovely, his was. The greatest gift you could have given me, my mother managed to say to him through tears, through “I love you,” through the towering beauty of that last moment. The hush in the room broken then by quiet crying.

The world turns pages of my father’s life and wrestles with his death. There seems to be no other news story. A world event as we knew it would be. It used to be hard to share my father with a whole nation. Now you’d have to be the most selfish person in the world not to take comfort from the support of so many.

Yet for me his death is simply this: one last moment of startling life, a memory seared into our hearts, the one antidote to the sorrow that will stream on with no end in sight. Death is eyes closing for the last time and other eyes opening — morning after morning — wondering if this will be the day when it gets easier.

My father told me when I was small that I didn’t need to stand on my toes to touch God, because He is everywhere. He was right: God was in that room.

In his last moment my father taught me that there is nothing stronger than love between two people. It reaches past death and cradles hearts that weep. The last thing he did in this world was to show my mother how entwined their souls are . . . and it was everything.


TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; US: California; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: memorial; pattidavis; reagan
Apologies if this has been posted before. It is quite moving.

Regards, Ivan


In memoriam

1 posted on 06/12/2004 5:08:30 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: Judith Anne; Desdemona; alnick; knews_hound; faithincowboys; hillary's_fat_a**; redbaiter; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 06/12/2004 5:08:57 PM PDT by MadIvan (Ronald Reagan - proof positive that one man can indeed change the world.)
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To: MadIvan

Beautiful...she's become the woman he hoped she be.


3 posted on 06/12/2004 5:12:07 PM PDT by Hildy ( If you don't stand up for what's RIGHT, you'll settle for what's LEFT.)
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To: MadIvan

Thanks, Ivan.


4 posted on 06/12/2004 5:13:32 PM PDT by clintonh8r (Retrosexual Vietnam veteran against John Kerry, proud to be a "crook" and a "liar.")
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To: MadIvan

The cold slap of reality affects us all differently.

God bless her.


5 posted on 06/12/2004 5:15:35 PM PDT by glock rocks (Can I get you something? Here's a pinecone.)
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To: MadIvan

Patti has come to realize how right/good/heroic her father really was.


6 posted on 06/12/2004 5:23:13 PM PDT by bikepacker67 (Imagine a world without Reagan... Scary stuff, eh?)
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To: MadIvan

Yes, very moving and loving of her to share.


7 posted on 06/12/2004 5:23:40 PM PDT by Dolphy
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To: MadIvan
Thank you. Thank you, also, for Baroness Thatcher and her wonderful euology and for her attendance at the events and for her stalwart defense, with President Reagan, of the very idea of freedom. Thank you for Mr. Blair's courage with our President Bush, also, in Iraq.

God bless your Britain, MadIvan, and you.

8 posted on 06/12/2004 5:28:46 PM PDT by Freedom'sWorthIt
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To: Hildy

I thought all three of the children were amazingly eloquent and the class of their father and mother came through. I think I may now understand how they felt shortchanged by their parents public life. He was such an amazing man that having to share him would make doing so all the more difficult. Sharing a lesser man would probably be much easier. Now it seems they have come to realize they were incredibly blessed.


9 posted on 06/12/2004 5:29:21 PM PDT by metalcor
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To: MadIvan
This woman has an extraordinary talent for the written word. Too bad she wasted her life thumbing her nose at propriety in general and her parents in particular.

Self destructive and a total waste of talent. How sad. By spiting her parents she spited herself.

10 posted on 06/12/2004 5:30:25 PM PDT by OldFriend (LOSERS quit when they are tired/WINNERS quit when they have won)
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To: Hildy

**Beautiful...she's become the woman he hoped she be.**

A dimocrat?

I don't think so.


11 posted on 06/12/2004 5:36:16 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: MadIvan; onyx

Thanks Ivan. It's beautiful. And it's so nice to see you posting again.


12 posted on 06/12/2004 5:43:37 PM PDT by Brad’s Gramma (God Bless America)
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To: OldFriend

I couldn't agree with you more.


13 posted on 06/12/2004 5:48:49 PM PDT by grellis (What's a rooster and mashed potatos have to do with being a pirate?)
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To: MadIvan

Very powerful description of her father's last days. Thanks.


14 posted on 06/12/2004 5:51:32 PM PDT by computerjunkie
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To: Hildy
Beautiful...she's become the woman he hoped she be.

Oh, Hildy. That simple, beautiful and said it all.

Thank you.
15 posted on 06/12/2004 6:04:55 PM PDT by texasflower (in the event of the rapture.......the Bush White House will be unmanned)
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To: MadIvan

I'm glad I wasn't one of the little soldiers in the war going on inside her head. She looked very troubled all week. A lot of pain.


16 posted on 06/12/2004 6:06:07 PM PDT by FlyVet
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To: MadIvan; Brad's Gramma

And it's so nice to see you posting again.





Indeed it is.
Margaret Thatcher and you.
My two favorite Brits.


17 posted on 06/12/2004 6:06:49 PM PDT by onyx
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To: Salvation
A dimocrat?

I don't think so.

That being said, I was wondering about Ronald P.
That remark about "wearing faith on your sleeve", I hope he
wasnt targeting "W"
18 posted on 06/12/2004 6:21:54 PM PDT by ThreePuttinDude (The French even surrender at a protest rally)
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To: MadIvan
I remember reading that Billy Graham said that he has been in the room many times when people are dying, and there is a world of difference between the death of a Christian and that of a nonChristian or atheist. The death of a Christian is frequently a beautiful and moving moment, like the one Patti describes here.

She is a lovely writer and she does justice to the emotions and to the moment. I hope her father's faith has moved her spirit as well as her heart.

19 posted on 06/12/2004 6:32:52 PM PDT by Capriole (DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE. FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.)
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To: TheStickman

poignant ping


20 posted on 06/12/2004 6:34:22 PM PDT by visualops (Let's win another one for the Gipper.)
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To: OldFriend
This woman has an extraordinary talent for the written word. Too bad she wasted her life thumbing her nose at propriety in general and her parents in particular. Self destructive and a total waste of talent. How sad. By spiting her parents she spited herself.

Of course you are correct. But I think there is a passage in the Bible about a prodigal son that would fit neatly here. She did come back, she did her family good in the last few years and she stood firmly and caringly in support of her mother at an extremely difficult time when she was needed more than any other. I bet that her father would have "slaughtered a fatted calf" and thrown the finest banquet to welcome his prodigal daughter home.

21 posted on 06/12/2004 6:36:49 PM PDT by ghostrider
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To: MadIvan

Give it time, she'll be out there with the gun grabbers and million mom marchers and NARAL boobs.


22 posted on 06/12/2004 6:37:36 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper (John Kerry: An old creep, with gray hair, trying to look like he's 30 years old.)
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To: bikepacker67

I agree. I observed Patti closely during the many ceremonies, and I think she's more on our side than not. I certainly no longer have a beef with her.


23 posted on 06/12/2004 6:39:50 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: MadIvan

BTTT


24 posted on 06/12/2004 6:46:40 PM PDT by Fiddlstix (This Tagline for sale. (Presented by TagLines R US))
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To: MadIvan

Thank you, MadIvan. It was very comforting to know of Pres. Reagan's last moments on earth.


25 posted on 06/12/2004 6:51:43 PM PDT by BlueAngel
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To: MadIvan

Darn it. Now I'm crying again.


26 posted on 06/12/2004 6:57:22 PM PDT by Desdemona
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To: Brad's Gramma; MadIvan
And it's so nice to see you posting again.

I'll second that, Gramma! Welcome back, MadIvan!

27 posted on 06/12/2004 7:13:24 PM PDT by JennysCool ("I'm not worried about the deficit. It's big enough to take care of itself." - RWR)
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To: Bahbah; MinuteGal

Thought you might want to read this......Have mixed feelings about Patty, (but do hope she and ours all see the light....)
She's not a child anymore, but even my dem friends said she looked bad....like a leftover flower child.


28 posted on 06/12/2004 7:23:34 PM PDT by hoosiermama (prayers for all)
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To: FlyVet
She looked very troubled all week.

Yes, she looked by far to be the most distraught of all the family members, especially during the service at the Cathedral. I hope she has found peace within herself through all the tributes to her father.

29 posted on 06/12/2004 7:32:04 PM PDT by IndyTiger
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To: MadIvan

Looks like Patti had a great teacher, and she leaned how to live and deal with life from a master.


30 posted on 06/12/2004 7:33:28 PM PDT by Ramonan (You never get something for nothing)
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To: Dog Gone
I agree. I observed Patti closely during the many ceremonies, and I think she's more on our side than not. I certainly no longer have a beef with her.

I sympathize with her 1960/70's disrespect.

Afterall it musta been hard to fit in (in youth culture)- in those foolish times - as the "Gov's" daughter.

31 posted on 06/12/2004 7:45:33 PM PDT by bikepacker67 (Imagine a world without Reagan... Scary stuff, eh?)
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To: Freedom'sWorthIt

Di-toe to what you said!


32 posted on 06/12/2004 7:48:02 PM PDT by Jaded
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To: MadIvan

Thanks for a beautiful post. Where have you been hiding?


33 posted on 06/12/2004 7:52:32 PM PDT by Temple Owl
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To: bikepacker67
Heck, even I joined the counterculter in the 70's. I voted for Carter.

By 1980, though, I'd come to my senses. I voted for Patti's dad, and never have voted for another Rat since.

34 posted on 06/12/2004 7:55:47 PM PDT by Dog Gone
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To: OldFriend

Spite is often jealousy made whole.


35 posted on 06/12/2004 7:59:51 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: OldFriend
This was meant for you:

Spite is often jealousy made whole.

36 posted on 06/12/2004 8:01:33 PM PDT by Old Professer (lust; pure, visceral groin-grinding, sweat-popping, heart-pounding staccato bursts of shooting stars)
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To: ThreePuttinDude

Oh yeah, Patty is a Dem. She said so the other night in an interview on PBS. She said that her Dad was wrong about the Nuclear proliferation. She said he was "lucky" it worked, but it was foolish!

She has learned to appreciate her parents, and I am happy about that. At least this alzheimers had one good outcome. I pray for others.

Ron is an Atheist and a Democrat who often says awful things about Bush.

It is too bad, because while he gave his eulogy, I noticed how much I loved his voice! It was smoothe and soothing. He has a voice like Charles Kuralt, on his Sunday morning show.

Ronny wrote a friend that his biggest heartache was that Ron P. did not believe in God. Gets it from his mom, I guess.


37 posted on 06/12/2004 8:15:32 PM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wish: A DIVORCE!)
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To: MadIvan

Thank you for posting this. Very moving.


38 posted on 06/12/2004 8:16:54 PM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wish: A DIVORCE!)
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To: tuckrdout
Ron is an Atheist and a Democrat who often says awful things about Bush.

It is too bad, because while he gave his eulogy, I noticed how much I loved his voice!

Really? To me, he sounded phoney, and self-aggrandizing.

But then again I always thought he was skinny lil dweeb.

39 posted on 06/12/2004 8:31:14 PM PDT by bikepacker67 (Imagine a world without Reagan... Scary stuff, eh?)
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To: Dog Gone

Carter also got me in '76. I too, have never voted for another Rat since. I can't imagine any circumstance which would cause me to vote for a Rat at any time in the future either. Though it wasn't RR alone who set me on this path, I am without doubt a product of Ronald Reagans vison of America.


40 posted on 06/12/2004 9:20:11 PM PDT by kylaka (The Clintons are only worthy of contempt, and maybe a little stray spit..)
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To: ThreePuttinDude

And his comment about "a mandate from God". I believe that was directed at President Bush too. I'd really like to be wrong, but fear I am not.


41 posted on 06/12/2004 11:26:06 PM PDT by Vets_Husband_and_Wife
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To: MadIvan

I am glad you posted it. It was good to see her with her mother through out this difficult time. I know that both boys were there too but there is a different kind of bond between mothers and daughters....


42 posted on 06/13/2004 12:04:40 AM PDT by jnarcus
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To: OldFriend

So good of you to pass judgement on another....They were more than willing to accept her amends and grant her forgiveness. We can do no less


43 posted on 06/13/2004 12:06:04 AM PDT by jnarcus
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To: Capriole

One wonders how many people who were not christian or were atheists had Billy Graham in the room with them when they passed?


44 posted on 06/13/2004 4:32:46 AM PDT by OldFriend (LOSERS quit when they are tired/WINNERS quit when they have won)
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To: Old Professer

Lamenting the waste of talent and time and the pain caused to her parents.


45 posted on 06/13/2004 4:35:25 AM PDT by OldFriend (LOSERS quit when they are tired/WINNERS quit when they have won)
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To: ghostrider

Very nicely said.


46 posted on 06/13/2004 5:41:12 AM PDT by Bahbah
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To: hoosiermama

Thanks for the ping, hm. Her account of her father's death is very moving. I certainly made some messes in my life. My parents forgave me. It's a parent kind of thing.


47 posted on 06/13/2004 5:45:04 AM PDT by Bahbah
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To: OldFriend

She cut her nose to spite her face. Would you know if Patti ever married, what year was she born?


48 posted on 06/13/2004 5:49:09 AM PDT by angcat
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To: OldFriend
One wonders how many people who were not christian or were atheists had Billy Graham in the room with them when they passed?

Apparently quite a few, in his early years--before he became famous he would often be called to the beds of dying people to see what comfort he might offer them and ease their passing.

When you think about it, the original statement makes sense, even without any metaphysical interpretations. For surely someone who, like a convinced Christian, is enthusiastic about impending death is going to have a very different experience in those last moments than someone who believes, rightly or wrongly, that he is about to be extinguished and may even be angry or bitter about the fact. The psyche is so powerful that it can overcome even great physical suffering.

49 posted on 06/13/2004 6:50:03 AM PDT by Capriole (DO NOT WRITE IN THIS SPACE. FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.)
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To: bikepacker67

Guess he proved that with Chris Matthews, didn't he...


50 posted on 06/18/2004 10:28:19 AM PDT by tuckrdout (Grant Teri Schindler (Schiavo) her wish: A DIVORCE!)
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