The day Nancy hopes she’ll be back with her man



Every night without fail she tells her husband what has happened during her day, who she has met and what she plans to do tomorrow. Then she blows him a kiss and says: "Goodnight, sleep tight and see you in the morning. I love you..."

Millions of couples may have a similar routine but this one is different. For Nancy Reagan at 93, has been a widow for nearly ten years.

Now in frail health and rarely seeing visitors at her secluded home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, Nancy's sadness at losing her husband has never lessened with the years.

"I miss him every moment of every single day," she told a friend recently."Every time a door opens I still expect him to come into the room."

Ronald and Nancy Reagan were married for 52 years until Ronald died at 93 in 2004 after years of battling Alzheimer's disease, which he described as "the journey that is leading me to the sunset of my life."

During that time, Nancy rarely left his side. She seldom spoke of the sadness the disease had brought but did once remark: "The worst part about Alzheimer's is that there's no one to exchange memories with. And we had a lot of memories."

Now the former First Lady whose reliance on spiritualism was often derided when her husband was America's president for eight years, has told friends that she regularly talks to the spirit of her ex-husband. She has also asked her spiritual adviser, the evangelist Billy Graham, now 90, whether she will meet Ronald beyond the grave.

"I said just tell me that and I'll be ok and he said that I will. I miss Ronnie so much. People say that as time passes it gets better, but it doesn't."

During their half-century together they were never ashamed to show their love. As Nancy once said: "Our marriage was like an adolescent's dream of what a marriage should be."

They walked hand-in hand. When he left the White House she waved from the window until he was out of sight. When he was away for more than a few hours he left notes around the apartment reading: "I love you more than anyone in the whole wide world."

During Ronald Reagan's campaigns, first for Governor of California and then for president, Nancy became famous for what was known as "the gaze" — a steady adoring stare at the man she loved. She used to say: "My life really began when I met Ronnie."

They first met in 1950 when Reagan had recently become divorced from Jane Wyman. He was becoming a big Hollywood star and was also president of the Screen Actors' Guild while Nancy Davis was a rising star. But her career became unimportant as her romance with Reagan blossomed.

As she would remember: "I don't know if it was exactly love at first sight but it was pretty close. We had dinner the first night... and the one after that.

"For the next month we must have gone to every restaurant and night-club in Los Angeles." When they married in 1952 Nancy happily gave up her film career although they did make one forgettable movie together.

The years did nothing to lessen their passionate love. A reporter who went on the presidential campaign trail remembered: "Nancy hung on Ronnie's every word. 

"When they had to part for any reason and kissed goodbye, hardened reporters would turn aside because we felt there was something very special and private going on between them."

And one of Nancy's press secretaries said: "They never took each other for granted. They never stopped courting."

Life was not all a bed of roses. Both became cancer victims, but survived and the president was seriously wounded by a would-be assassin. Then in 1994 came the blow that tested their love to the limit. Ronald Reagan told the American people that he had Alzheimer's disease. And even then, his first thought was for his wife: "I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience." In fact Nancy became his rock more than ever when managing what she called "The long goodbye."

She planned a busy schedule to keep the former president busy and fit. She encouraged him to go to his office a few hours every weekday but made sure he was no longer photographed without her supervision. Only a couple of years before his death she said: "Our relationship is very special and we are very much in love. I can't imagine life without him."

Today, the few friends Nancy Reagan sees, say she talks constantly of being "together again with Ronnie". One said: "Death when it comes, will be welcome if it reunites her with the man who was the purpose of her being alive. She almost counts the days before she is back in his arms again."

Ronald Reagan's old friend Charlton Heston once described the Reagan marriage as "the greatest love affair in the history of the American presidency". It's hard to argue with that.

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