Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Reaganís family await merciful release (THE GREAT MAN ALERT)
The Sunday Times ^ | September 29, 2002 | Sarah Baxter,

Posted on 09/28/2002 10:53:56 PM PDT by MadIvan

HE was a key figure in ripping down the iron curtain and ending the cold war, which brought the 20th century to a close with America as the only superpower. Yet Ronald Reagan’s horizons have shrunk to his bedside as Alzheimer’s disease ravages his mind.

Michael Reagan, his elder son, believes that death would be a merciful release for the former American president.

“It’s time for him to go. It’s very sad,” he said in an interview. “I’m going to hate the day Dad dies. You think you are ready for it, but you never are. But I sometimes pray that if God wants to take him home, then take him home.”

Reagan, 91, sleeps on and off for 18 hours a day, according to his son. He was always a sound sleeper, even when his policies were under attack in the 1980s.

His waking hours are a nightmare of befuddlement.

Reagan fell in the bedroom of his Bel Air home in California in January 2001, broke a hip and has been bedridden ever since. He is fed, washed and cared for 24 hours a day by medical staff, but can neither leave his bed, even for the most basic functions, nor make himself understood.

“Some days are better than others but they are all sad days. You see a man who is referred to as the Great Communicator and he can’t communicate because he doesn’t know who he is. He talks gibberish,” said his son.

Reagan does not know that his daughter Maureen died last August of melanoma at the age of 60. On the day of her funeral he stayed at home. “You wouldn’t have wanted to tell him,” said Michael. “Even if he could comprehend, he would have no way of expressing his feelings.”

Michael, 57, was adopted as a baby by Reagan and his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman. According to family legend three-year-old Maureen was in a Hollywood chemist’s when the pharmacist asked what she wanted. She put 97 cents on the counter and said: “I want a baby brother.” Her birth had been difficult, so the family chose to adopt.Today Reagan’s son is a radio chat show host in California who buried some of his family demons with an autobiography more than a decade ago. The children had many run-ins with their emotionally distant father but Michael now visits him once a month. “He doesn’t know me, but I go there for Nancy, to show up. I hug and kiss him,” he said.

“In some ways I go there out of guilt. We’re not like every family — I was at boarding school from the age of five, so I’m seeing him more than I used to. It’s the way our family works, by appointment — it’s always been by appointment.”

Nancy, who was 81 in July, still looks at Reagan adoringly, said Michael. She wants others to remember him the way he was but even she confessed last week that she was lonely. She was not sure that her husband knew her any more and said: “When you come right down to it, you’re in it alone and there’s nothing anybody can do for you.”

The strain is beginning to tell on her. “She’s frail,” said Michael. “She’s much frailer than she would have been because of Dad’s illness. She’s a professional worrier. She’s always carried a burden of some sort. She worries about what people are saying about Dad, about his place in history.

“I worry that when Dad goes Nancy won’t be far behind because she lives and breathes for Dad.” She need have no fear about history’s verdict on Reagan, whose virtues are frequently invoked in this post-September 11 world.

“George W is closer to my father’s ideology than he is to his father’s,” said Michael, who believes that the September 11 attacks would not have happened under Reagan. “He responded to the Muammar Gadaffis. They knew where he stood.” Despite backing Bush, he thinks his father would have disapproved of the “giant conversation” under way over Iraq.

Libya was bombed in 1986 after a terrorist attack on Americans in West Berlin. “Dad didn’t hold a press conference saying what we’ll do with Gadaffi. He just did it,” said Michael.

Reagan’s descent into Alzheimer’s was remarkably rapid after he left the White House in 1989 and soon became impossible to conceal.

Michael said Reagan’s great ally, Margaret Thatcher, was guest of honour at a birthday party for him in 1993.

“Dad gave Maggie a great introduction, as he always did, and she got a standing ovation. Then the applause stopped and Dad reintroduced her. Everybody stood up and applauded again as if nothing had happened.

“After that Nancy and Dad felt it was time to start thinking about getting the word out about Alzheimer’s.”

In 1994 Reagan published a touching letter about his plight in which he said: “I only wish I could spare Nancy from the painful experience.”

He could not. By 1997 he was still active — some golf, walking on the beach — but his mind was faltering. He would spend hours sweeping leaves from the swimming pool and his secret servicemen would quietly put them back, simply to keep him occupied.

Every now and then he would show a flash of insight, his son recalled. “My daughter Ashley hugged him and said, ‘Grandpa, I love you.’ He looked directly at me and said in a full voice, ‘You know why I’m hugging her? Because she’s a she.’ ” He’d remembered how Michael had complained about his lack of hugs as a child.

Now Michael understands that Reagan was a typical post-war father. At the time, however, the children were often unforgiving and even today the family is politically divided.

At the launch of the battleship USS Ronald Reagan last year, Nancy’s children Patti Davis and Ron Reagan stayed away. “They’re the 1960s generation, the liberals. To them the ship was a killing machine,” said Michael. “I felt sorry for Nancy that day. She fought hard to have the ship commissioned before my father died. It had never been done in anybody’s lifetime before, so it was an honour. I was there with my wife and children. George W Bush was there.

“Nancy and I have not always had the greatest of relationships and I began to wonder if the problem was not that she’s so angry with me but that she’s jealous that the Wyman kids — Maureen and I — would show up no matter what was going on in the family.”

Maureen was Nancy’s chief support until she succumbed to her own illness. In the past year Patti has grown closer to her mother and believes the reconciliation makes her father happy. Nancy said last week: “She thinks he has a feeling of the two of us together. As she says, his soul doesn’t have Alzheimer’s.”

Michael is grateful. “When Maureen passed away, Patti stepped up and she’s there with her mother all the time. It’s been good for Nancy and it’s great for Patti. She’s finally getting close to Dad.”

Maureen sacrificed her own health, Michael believes, by campaigning non-stop for an Alzheimer’s cure instead of fighting her cancer.The time is nearing when Reagan will join her. “Maureen has been waiting for him for a year and has probably got a good spot for him beside her. She’d love it. No brothers, no sisters, no moms. Just her and Dad.” For Michael, it is a consoling thought.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; US: California; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: alzheimers; greatman; reagan; uncleron
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 161-163 next last
This is particularly poignant for me because my mother recently discovered a photo from 18 years ago of me and my sister in Washington DC - we stood with a life size cutout of President Reagan. I had my arm around his shoulders, my sister, who was quite small at the time, was holding his hand. He was like a favourite uncle, a staunch defender of freedom, and as the Daily Telegraph called him, "The Great Man".

Maureen Reagan worked for the Alzheimer's Association. They accept online donations at their site, which is at: www.alz.org. Please give generously.

God Bless You, Uncle Ron.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 09/28/2002 10:53:56 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: BigWaveBetty; schmelvin; MJY1288; terilyn; Ryle; MozartLover; Teacup; rdb3; fivekid; jjm2111; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 09/28/2002 10:54:17 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: MadIvan
"...if God wants to take him home, then take him home."

It'll be a sad day, but the Gipper got his money's worth outta life...MUD

4 posted on 09/28/2002 10:57:05 PM PDT by Mudboy Slim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
Bump for the greatest president!
5 posted on 09/28/2002 10:58:00 PM PDT by Cold Heat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mudboy Slim
It'll be a sad day, but the Gipper got his money's worth outta life...MUD

What hurts is that there are so many battles that we could use his help on.

Regards, Ivan

6 posted on 09/28/2002 10:58:12 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
President Reagan is in my thoughts and prayers.
7 posted on 09/28/2002 11:00:39 PM PDT by Defender2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
"...many battles that we could use his help on."

It is up to our generation to pick up the Flag of FReedom, Slay the Evil RATS, and win those battles ourselves.

FReegards...MUD

BTW...if Reagan's healthy and stout in '92, Bill Clinton wouldda never happened.

8 posted on 09/28/2002 11:02:09 PM PDT by Mudboy Slim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Mo1
History will be far kinder to Reagan than Clinton. Not to mention Carter and the Kennedys.
9 posted on 09/28/2002 11:03:28 PM PDT by blackbart.223
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Mudboy Slim
BTW...if Reagan's healthy and stout in '92, Bill Clinton wouldda never happened.

One joke that President Reagan made during his illness that reached this side of the Atlantic is that apparently he said the one advantage of Alzheimers was that he was able to forget that Clinton was President.

Regards, Ivan

10 posted on 09/28/2002 11:03:38 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: MadIvan
Thank you for your words about President Reagen. He is missed, may God bless him well.

glasseye

12 posted on 09/28/2002 11:06:38 PM PDT by glasseye
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
What a bittersweet article this is. I am rather surprised to see Mike be so candid in his remarks. That alone tells me the end is near for our former President. It sounds as though it will be a blessing in some ways.

My Mother has this dreaded disease, so I know the horror of it, although she is in the beginning stages. It is the most confusing disease ever. The Reagan family has done so much to help others understand the illness, and have set a wonderful example for us to follow.
May God keep his hands upon them.
13 posted on 09/28/2002 11:07:12 PM PDT by ladyinred
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fundle
I don't know...are you?
14 posted on 09/28/2002 11:07:17 PM PDT by RichInOC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
My Father died of Alzhiemers this past March 30th, It's a terrible disease and my prayers are with the Reagan's as they struggle with the inevidable.

God Bless Ronald Reagan

15 posted on 09/28/2002 11:08:54 PM PDT by MJY1288
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: MadIvan
May God bless this great man. I feel priveleged to have experienced his leadership. Seeing the end of the Cold War was a monumental historical event.
16 posted on 09/28/2002 11:08:54 PM PDT by Allegra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: fundle
fundle signed up 2002-09-28.

You are about to set a new record for the brevity of a stay on here.

Ivan

17 posted on 09/28/2002 11:09:12 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: MJY1288
My Father died of Alzhiemers this past March 30th, It's a terrible disease and my prayers are with the Reagan's as they struggle with the inevidable.

What struck me is the thought that Nancy will pass shortly afterwards. You see that in truly devoted couples, that when one goes, the other follows - as if half of one's soul has passed from death to life, the other shall go too.

Regards, Ivan

18 posted on 09/28/2002 11:10:37 PM PDT by MadIvan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Mo1
He was always a sound sleeper, even when his policies were under attack in the 1980s.

WTF does that mean? He slept through the 80's?
19 posted on 09/28/2002 11:11:16 PM PDT by operation clinton cleanup
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: RichInOC; Admin Moderator
fundle is now drooling with the fishes, Thanks to the Admin Moderator fundle is toast
20 posted on 09/28/2002 11:11:31 PM PDT by MJY1288
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 161-163 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson