Patti Davis, the beloved daughter of Nancy and Ronald Reagan, shared her thoughts about her mom during Nancy Reagan’s funeral. The two had a strained relationship for many years, but when Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they came back together. Here’s what she said about her mom during the funeral.
Patti talked about how Nancy was adamant about reuniting with Ronald when she passed away.
“My parents were two halves of a circle, closed tight on a world where their love for each other was the only sustenance they needed.”
She talked about how one summer evening as a teenager, she saw her parents sitting on the sand, heads tilted together, close in conversation. It was clear that their private world was indestructible, an island for two, she said.
When her dad was shot, at first they wouldn’t let Nancy see him. “I have to. You don’t understand how it is for us,” Nancy insisted.
When Ronald died, he opened his eyes and looked straight at Nancy. “The circle was drawn again when he left this world,” Patti recalled. See her talking about that moment here:
Patti said that Ronald would appear to Nancy long after midnight, sitting on the edge of the bed, Nancy had told her. Patti said her faith in those visits eased some of Nancy’s loneliness.
“On one occasion I’m quite certain she was channeling my father. … I found her very busy making phone calls to elected officials (about stem cell legislation.) She gave me a somber look. ‘Well,’ she said in a calm tone, ‘Karl Rove is dogging my phone calls. Every one I call, he calls right after and tries to get them to oppose stem cell legislation.”
Patti asked if her phone was bugged and Nancy said she had the Secret Service check on that. Her demeanor was calm and practically zen, not angry. “There’s no time to get upset, there’s work to get done, I can’t get distracted.” I said, “Who are you and what have you done with my mother?”
Over time, the late night visits from Ronald ceased, but she never stopped missing him. Patti said that Nancy liked having the TV on because it filled the house with sound and she felt less lonely. She also filled the empty spaces with stories and memories.
Patti said: “My father used to get massages from a large Eastern European man … On one of these days, as my father lay face down on the table, my mother tiptoed in, kissed him lightly on the back of his neck, and tiptoed out…” She paused as everyone at the funeral started laughing, thinking about the scene.
“He didn’t know it was her… But he went through the rest of the massage, never said a word. After the masseur left, he said to my mother, ‘I don’t think we can have him back anymore… He kissed me.'” Patti said that after Nancy told him it was her, Ronald’s expression was flooded with relief and he said, “Thank God, I didn’t know what to do!”
Patti said that she and her mom talked about that story just a few days before Nancy died. Her mom’s laughter upon hearing that story was the last time Patti heard her laugh, because she passed away a few days later.
Patti and her mom had a contentious relationship, Patti said. “I tried her patience and she intimidated me. We were never mild with one another. Our emotions burned up the color chart, nothing was ever gray. … But there were moments in our history when all that was going on between us was love. I choose to remember those moments.”
She talked about special moments, like when she told Nancy about a complicated relationship that ended when she 19. Nancy didn’t judge her, she didn’t accuse or punish her, she was tender, understanding and love.
“Most of all,” Patti said, “I will remember looking out the window to the sweep of sunset and seeing my parents sitting together on the sand. Maybe on the other side, it’s possible to sit there forever, undisturbed, two souls happily entwined, needing only each other…”
Learn more about Patti here: