Skip to comments.For a Frail Mrs. Reagan, a Week of Great Resolve
Posted on 06/12/2004 6:26:29 AM PDT by Melpomene
WASHINGTON, June 11 Nancy Reagan started her seventh day of mourning Friday bowed over her husband's coffin in the Rotunda of the Capitol. By the time the sun set in California 12 hours later, Mrs. Reagan had attended a state funeral at National Cathedral, a formal send-off at Andrews Air Force Base and, after a cross-country flight aboard an Air Force jumbo jet, Ronald Reagan's burial on a hillside outside Los Angeles.
For Mrs. Reagan, it was an exhausting and emotional test of endurance, all the more so for an 82-year-old woman who, as friends noted, for 10 years has barely been able to step out for lunch as she cared for her ailing husband. It ended at dusk in California as she wept softly over her husband's coffin with her children at her side. It was also the climax of a meticulously planned week of pageantry and tribute that Mrs. Reagan was, characteristically, intimately involved in arranging, right down to the selection of the tenor who sang "Ave Maria" at the cathedral on this rainy morning.
Mrs. Reagan's friends said she was, to no small extent, shielded from the emotion of her loss as she watched, with evident pride and sorrow, as every motorcade, eulogy, and snap of a salute that made up a memorial unlike any Washington had seen in 50 years unfolded almost precisely as planned.
"She looks a little frail," said Betsy Bloomingdale, a close friend of Mrs. Reagan, speaking from her home in California as she prepared to attend the burial there Friday night. "But she is very strong inside. She is. She has the strength. She is doing her last thing for Ronnie. And she is going to get it right."
Mrs. Reagan's friends were not alone in talking of her composure and resolve this week, on display from the intimate first service at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Monday, where the former first lady brushed the coffin with her cheek, through a state funeral that drew every living president and leaders from around the globe. But they said it, like everything else involving the former first lady this week, was testimony to Mrs. Reagan's fastidiousness and the attention she had always paid to the details of her husband's life.
There were, as she intended, no surprises here.
"She was determined to get through this," said another friend of the family's, who asked not to be identified. "It's the role she's been given to play. It's her last thing for him."
The planning began while Mr. Reagan was still in the White House and continued with regular meetings through the years. It was Mrs. Reagan, a friend said, who asked that former President George Bush speak at the funeral, who chose the chorus that would sing, and who helped devise what amounted to an elaborate cross-country funeral timed to the setting of the sun over the Pacific Ocean.
One of her friends noted, after the funeral ended here, that the service could not have been more punctual, making sure that the Boeing 747 carrying Mr. Reagan's body would beat the sunset.
For Mrs. Reagan, these few days marked a period of visibility and demand on her unlike anything she has experienced since her husband left office in January 1989.
She flew back and forth across the nation. She attended four public ceremonies marking her husband's death. During less than 48 hours in Washington, while she stayed at Blair House across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, she accepted sympathy calls from, among others, President Bush, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
For Americans whose last vivid memory of Mrs. Reagan was delivering a speech in his honor at the 1996 Republican presidential convention the past few days provided a blur of sorrowful images of a woman who seemed too stunned to cry, and who was so frail that one friend described her as "nothing more than skin and bones."
After the ceremonies in Washington, and the motorcade back to Andrews Air Force base outside Washington, Mrs. Reagan walked uncertainly up the stairs to the Air Force 747 with the United States of America emblem on the side transporting her husband's coffin home. She had had almost slipped through the door when she stopped and turned around.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
God bless you, Nancy Reagan.
Ever notice that despite the so called "empowered" feminist, its Conservative women who show the most strength? Think about it besides Nancy what about Condi Rice or Margret Thatcher. These women changed (and are changing) history through their strength. Even those not actively involved with politics such as Laura and Barbara Bush. Can you imagine either one of these women putting up with the dalliances of Bill Clinton? Instead you have the feminist hero Hillary Clinton who is not only so weak she has tolerated the infidelity of her husband but viciously attacks his rape victims. Maybe it liberal men that are the problem. Lets face it "enlighted" men such as Alex Baldwin and Sean Penn have both beat their wifes and others.
But even commentators. Its hard to ignore the differences between a Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter vs. say Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd. Both Coulter and Ingraham are lawyers who had successful carrers before entering their current professions and are both clearly more intelligent and witty.
Her strength and loyalty are a shining beacon to all wives. God bless her.
Yes, She came through for the Gipper. He must have been as proud of her as we are. The world was so stunned at Reagan's death that it hasn't realized ,yet, the task that Nancy endured. She was the symbol of class, dignity,honor, and respect. She confronted us with all that's missing in the world today. I hope that all the talk shows this weekend will touch on the inner beauty of this wonderous woman, Nancy Reagan.
Steadfast in her love, Nancy is every bit the woman her husband so often admired. It is very touching.
A minister friend I was close to in Hawaii said once that her first duty in walking into the hospital room of a very ill person was to first get the sense of the patient's will to live vs. their wish to go home to God. If the later, her primary job was to counsel the family/friends on letting go--because without that, the patient often could not be released to an easy passing.
Unfortunately, Ronald Reagen was such a powerful physical specimen that all the Alzheimer's could do was to slowly steal his mind.
Such a great point of contrasts and so true. . .
. . .and ever notice the kind of press they get; as well as the appreciation of the feminists?
Save for the 'Iron Lady'; no good press and only some ridicule and begrudgement from their female contemporaries; that they are alive.
Liberal:see also hypocrit
hypocrit: see also Liberal; Progressive Democrat. . .
I find it somewhat disengenuous to compare Nancy Reagan to Jackie Kennedy. What was Jackie's great contribution to this country? Shielding us from the knowledge that JFK was a womanizer? JFK's funeral wasn't about a woman mourning the lost love of her life but rather an elaborate stage production to secure a place in history for an inconsequential president. I know it is harsh so flame away.
What you said. I've never understood the Kennedy mystique. But then, I'm 35, so almost the entire time I've been politically aware, the news that Kennedy was a slimeball from a family of slimeballs wasn't, well, news.
Last night after watching the service in California I could not hold back the tears. It was heart wrenching and a testiment to love that truly withstood so much. For her to share Mr. Reagan and their love with this great nation was a gift that I will never forget. When the service was over I walked into my husbands office, with tears in my eyes, and told him that I loved him. It seemed to just be the right thing to do. She truly is an example to follow.
You hit the nail on the head. These "progressives" are actually weak! They can not handle life's real problems and run away from them, to go display public tantrams which they call speeches.
I'll say it again because I just can't say it enough: God bless Nancy Reagan.
I feel real guilty about buying into all the crap the media has spread about her over the years. Class will tell!!! And she is the ultimate in class. The funeral was just heart rending. I hope she can now rest amd have time for herself, but she is so unselfish, that probably won't happen.
But one thing about the Reagan Presidency comes to mind. I didn't have to worry about the direction our country was going then because I knew the real adults were in charge.
Someone on another thread said that they felt the Reagans planned the funeral to instill patriotism and love of country in us again. Well, if they did, they were sure successful, I feel today like I did in the 80's and I love this country more than ever.
I've never lost the feeling, I'm 56. Yes the tone was very patriotic..again I think President Reagan planned it that way, Nancy and America were his first loves.
The hardest thing for me to imagine is losing a husband TWICE.
She lost Ronny twice - first to Alzheimers and secondly to death. Most folks who lose a spouse this way say that the second loss is easier - because their personal pain ends when the loved one dies.
The first loss, the one to Alzheimers is devastating because the body lives on and the person they've come to know and love slowly slips away.
What a role model she is.
God Bless her.
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