Reagan was 93 years old when he died of pneumonia and complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. His wife, Nancy, was at his bedside.
I’ll get this out of the way first — this blogpost is not about politics. It’s about the tenacity of genuine love.
Ronald and Nancy were married in March of 1952 and they were by each other’s sides until that last day in Los Angeles in 2004.
And I guess that I might not have cared otherwise about the anniversary of Reagan’s death in 2011 except that I happened to see a certain photo of his wife on the Internet that day.
In the photo, Nancy was sitting by herself on a plain wooden chair gazing down at her husband’s headstone. And there was just something so touching, sincere and human about the scene, that a dadgum tear actually came to my eye.
Americans of the 21st century live in a hurry-up society that fosters short attention spans, instant gratification and beaucoups feelings of entitlement.
And because there is always such a dadgum rush to get things done, a lot of important bits if this and that get lost in the shuffle.
Grieving is one of those lost arts. It seems that when people die nowadays, the prescription for the loved one(s) left-behind is to get-over-it-and-on-with-it as fast as possible.
But…says who?? All of us grieve in our own ways and in our own time. The likelihood is that each of us will miss a lost loved one for the rest of our lives, but in order to make the space in our hearts for the good memories, we have to take the time to grieve.
So when I saw the photo of a solitary Nancy Reagan quietly sitting by her husband’s grave, I was struck by her dignified custom of taking the time to remember.
And it got me to pondering about the sanctity of love and that old-fashioned notion of “until death do us part.” Nancy was by Ronald’s side for 52 years throughout the good times and the bad.
She was there when he was governor of California from 1967 to 1975, when he was President of the United States for 1981 to 1989, when he was wounded by a gunman in 1981 and when he retired in 1989.
She stayed by his side when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994.
And seven years after his death, she still takes the time every year to go visit him at his place of rest.
Nancy Reagan will be 90 years old on July 6th. She is frail-looking now and certainly does not have the rather imposing demeanor that she had when she lived in the White House.
But…she has time and love and the ability to sit quietly in a painful place and remember.
That’s what matters….
©June 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver