While I love a good romantic novel or film, nothing beats real life love stories. One of the best, revolves around a former president and his lady love. Yep, you guessed it, I’m talking about President Reagan and his wife, Nancy.
Whether away from home or across the room, the former President was known to pen his undying love and admiration for the First Lady. “You should…be aware of how essential you are in this man’s life. By his own admission, he is completely in love with you.”
In 2000, former First Lady Nancy Reagan published the endearing and often tear-jerking memoir, I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan. Have a box of tissues handy because this beautiful collection of love letters will have you laughing and crying, often at the same time.
I have a box of letters my husband and I exchanged during the year we were engaged while he was stationed at Ft. Ord, California, and I taught 10th grade in Pennsylvania. I treasure those letters as the former First Lady treasured hers. “Whenever Ronnie went away, I missed him terribly, and when his letters arrived, the whole world stopped so I could read them.” Letters that no doubt brought Mrs. Reagan great comfort as her beloved husband suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
One such letter dated December 25, 1981, the couple’s first Christmas in the White House, described the different aspects of his wife and what he loved about each one. The letter was read by former Prime Minister and close friend of Ronald Reagan’s, Brian Mulroney, at the funeral service for Nancy Reagan in March, 2016.
“Dear Mrs. R, there are several much beloved women in my life, and on Christmas, I should be giving them gold and precious stones and perfume and furs and lace. I know that even the best of these would fall short of expressing how much these several women mean to me and how empty my life would be without them. There is the fun First Lady Nancy who brings “so much grace and charm to whatever she does,” the do-gooder Nancy who visited sick children in hospitals, the “nest-builder” Nancy, “the girl who goes to the ranch,” the “sentimental lady,” and the girl who “loves to laugh.”
“Fortunately, all these women in my life are you. Fortunately for me that is, for there could be no life for me without you. Browning asked, ‘How do I love thee, let me count the ways…’ For me there is no way to count. Merry Christmas to all the gang of you: mummy, first lady, the sentimental you, the fun you, and the pee-wee powerhouse you. Merry Christmas, you all. With all my love, lucky me.”
You can almost see the twinkle in the former President’s eyes when he wrote, “The nicest thing a girl ever did for me was when a girl named Nancy married me and brought a warmth and joy to my life that has grown with each passing year.”
President Reagan wanted Nancy and everyone else to know that the greatest treasure was not his successful career or the fortune he amassed. Rather, his greatest treasure was his marriage.
“We haven’t been careless with the treasure that is ours — namely what we are to each other.”
Although she was an accomplished actress in her own right, Nancy Reagan wrote “when I say my life began with Ronnie, well, it’s true. It did. I can’t imagine life without him.” Nancy Reagan never thought of herself as an actress or as the First Lady. In her opinion, Mrs. Reagan was the best job in the world. “My job is being Mrs. Ronald Reagan.”
If this post didn’t melt your heart, yours must be made of stone for as the former Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney said, “Theirs was a love story for the ages.”
Now that’s a sigh-worthy ending!
Which Reagan quote melts your heart the most?