Michael Reagan: 'I Saw Him as Dad'
This is a partial transcript from "HANNITY & COLMES", June 22, 2004 AND June 24, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Recently we spoke with President Reagan's son Michael who shared with us some very special memories of his father.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Mike, welcome back to the program, as always. You know how much I love your dad. I know it's been a very tough week. How are you doing?
MICHAEL REAGAN, RONALD REAGAN'S SON: I'm doing OK. It's -- it's not easy. I mean, every day you think about -- you think about your father. And you miss him.
Even though those last, you know, couple of years he was bedridden and what have you, the moments we could be able to spend together, me just holding his hand or saying a prayer or what have you, meant a lot.
And it's going to -- it's going to take a while to finally, you know, put it all, you know, all behind me. But the fact is that, you know, like Father's Day, we're able to go up and visit him at the library with the kids. And that meant a lot to the kids, and, you know, that's the place where now we can visit.
HANNITY: It doesn't make it easier, even though you know this is going to happen. I mean, you have been on the air with us for many years and we have always checked in, how is your dad doing and he hasn't been doing well for long time.
But even when that happens and it's expected, it's still really unexpected, isn't it?
REAGAN: You're absolutely right. It's just -- it's one of those things. And even my father talked about it with his own mother, Nelly, when she passed away. It was expected but when it happened, it was a terrible shock.
REAGAN: And we knew Dad was going to go. We didn't know when. We knew that the time was getting closer and closer, but when it does happen, you just -- all of a sudden, "Gosh, here's somebody I've been with for over 50 years of my life who now just isn't around anymore."
And you do -- you -- it is -- it does shock you.
But when you see what the outpouring was all of that week of the people that were out lining the streets and what have you, it sure -- it sure reassures you about all of the things my dad stood for. And that was just a great, great sendoff, I'll tell you that.
HANNITY: I'm glad it brought comfort to you and obviously to the family.
One of the things, Mike, I think it was Patti that told the story a little bit. She was there -- I know you were called in because you were scheduled to go in for surgery. And you postponed that because they told you that your dad had taken a turn for the worse.
HANNITY: And Patti told the story, he actual -- when he died, he actually -- it seemed to -- his consciousness or he became aware. Tell us about that story. Bring us behind the scenes.
REAGAN: Well, Ron and Patti -- Ron had come in from Hawaii. He had been there with Doria vacationing for a week. And of course, the worry was, would he get back in time to be there for our father?
And he got back very early Saturday morning and, of course, went from the airport to the house, and that's where Patti and he were.
I had been up there on Friday night. Interestingly enough, I had been interviewing Neil Cavuto on my own radio show when I got a page from the house that it might a good idea to come up. And so I swore Neil to secrecy.
I said, you know, "Don't tell anybody where I'm going or why I'm going. Finish out the interview and put on a best of." And I went to the house.
So I was up there with my family on Friday night with my father for a couple of hours.
And Ron had not been there in awhile because he lives in Seattle. So Saturday morning when he arrived, he and Patti and Nancy were able to be with Dad and be around Dad.
And as Patti says, as Dad was ready to literally take his last breath, and he had his eyes closed for quite a few days. In fact, his eyes were closed on Friday night when we were there visiting. He opened his eyes for the last time, and he opened them and looked at Nancy and then just closed his eyes and died.
And as she said, you know, the love could not -- love conquered the disease, that he was able to get his last vision of the woman that he loved all of his life, right up until the end.
COLMES: I hope you're doing well. I can only imagine what you must be experiencing.
How is this for you? What are you feeling?
REAGAN: Oh, it's -- as I was saying earlier, it's -- it's tough, Alan. It's just to -- You know -- as I said, you know it's going to happen and then it happens.
To have to say goodbye, gosh, it was just the toughest thing in the world to say goodbye to my dad, to see him, you know, there in a coffin that I'll never be able to go up and hold his hand again. But I'll be able to visit him at the library, but I'll never be able to hold his hand.
And what you go through is you start going through memories. You know, your memories of that relationship that you had.
And that's what I was doing when I was coming back into Point Magu and driving out to the library, because all of a sudden, I realized I'm going to be the first one that's going to speak at the library. And it's only going to be myself, my brother Ron and my sister Patti.
And what do you say? What -- You know, you've got four to five minutes to speak. What do you say in four to five minutes? I've got 59 years of lifetime. What do you say and put it into four or five minutes. And that's why I just wanted to talk about my dad.
Because all of you, you and Sean, the rest of the world see him as governor or president of the United States, argue about policies and what have you. I saw him as Dad.
And what happens, politics has a tendency sometimes to take Dad away and I just wanted to share Dad and let you know that here is a guy, when he had the time, and he would make time, he would be a father.
Those mornings -- I looked so forward to those Saturday mornings, Alan. And they meant so much to me sitting on the curb at 333 South Beverly Glenn, waiting for my dad to turn that corner from Sunset Boulevard and pick me up, sitting on the curb with my sister Maureen or a friend of mine and go out to the ranch and just spend the day with my dad.
And here is a man who then had two families and was a father to both families. And it just -- it meant so much to me to be with him and to watch him. I just absolutely idolized my dad.
And those are the times that I remember. I remember the fun times. When your dad is that big, you miss him for those special, special moments because you have to share him with the world.
Like I got an e-mail from one of my listeners, Alan, and the e-mail was, "Dear Mike, thanks to you and Maureen and Patti and Ron, because we know what you had to give up for the world to be a better place."
And it really meant a lot to me. I saved it because you do give up a lot. But the world is a better place, and I'm just a lucky guy.
JUNE 24, 2004
COLMES: Welcome back to HANNITY & COLMES. I'm Alan Colmes. We now have more of our special interview with Michael Reagan about this father.
HANNITY: Nancy recently published those letters, the love letters to your dad -- from your dad to Nancy. And I went back and I read them.
Besides my favorite book of your father's, "Ronald Reagan in His Own Hand," which was his writings and his passion in his speech, but he puts all of us as husbands to shame, Mike, in terms of the tenderness and the love and the concern and the caring.
He really -- you want to know Ronald Reagan's heart, I mean, he poured out his heart to Nancy and the kids in these letters.
REAGAN: Oh, absolutely right. Now Nancy, it's interesting. When Nancy published the book, the letters to her, she asked me if I read them. I said, "No."
She said, "Why not?"
And I said, "It's kind of like, why do your parents, like, lock their bedroom door on Saturday morning. I don't know if I want to read those letters. I know he loves you."
But the letters in his own hand is something else. And the letters he wrote to myself and he wrote to Cameron and wrote to Ashley, this is really how he stayed in touch with people.
And Nancy and I would talk about this when I would go up to the house. But unfortunately we live in a society today where we just hit "delete." Nobody writes letters. They write e-mail and then hit delete.
So there's no -- there's not going to be a history of people like Ronald Reagan who write love letters to people.
COLMES: How is Nancy doing?
REAGAN: I think she's doing all right. She's -- he gave her strength. I talked to her a couple of times. And she's doing all right because now she's got the support system of her friends. She's never going to be what she was, because the man she loved -- I mean, she idolized him.
You saw the public side of Nancy. But there really wasn't a difference in the private side of Nancy. I mean, this is a woman that, when you -- I mean, when you went up to the house, I mean, she did nothing but ask you questions and grill you if you saw the latest special on Dad or you read the magazine on Dad, to make sure that you saw everything that was ever printed about your father before he even walked through the house.
And then if you lied to her and said, "Yes, I did," she'd start asking you questions about it so you'd better read it.
COLMES: Tested, right.
REAGAN: Yes, you were tested on it.
No, she lived and breathed Ronald Reagan. And we all know that. There wasn't a public and a private side of her when it came to -- to Dad.
So she's doing OK because she's got Patti, Patti, who is up there most every day and visits with her, which is -- which is a wonderful place for Patti to be. And so that -- that's a support system to her.
HANNITY: Bring us, if you can, inside the plane ride. Here, you and the family, you guys are flying the casket back to Washington and you had to fly it back for that tough and emotional time where you gave the eulogy. Bring us inside the plane. What was going on?
REAGAN: First of all, inside Air Force One all you see is Fox. It's everywhere. It's in every room. You've got Fox television on plasma screens.
So it's really interesting to sit there in your area. We had -- we have a room for four in there. And it was from my family, Cameron, Ashley and Glenn and I. And watching yourself being reported on on Fox, and watching the plan actually take off live on Fox as you're in the plane.
But in the back of the plane is what everybody saw, where they put dad's casket. We were able to go back and visit the casket during the flight to and from Washington, D.C. And that meant a lot. I went back there with Cameron a couple of times and Ashley and Colleen and we were able to -- to visit with Dad and with the casket as we were flying back and forth.
But it was -- it was quiet in many ways for family, I think.
You had the conference room with Merv Griffin and ultimately Maggie Thatcher when she came back with us and Charlie Wick and Jane Wick and some other people.
But it was -- it was quiet in many ways just because of the nature of what we were -- what we were doing. What really uplifted us is when we would get off the plane and just see the throngs of people that were out there, to support us.
It's interesting, you know, that was the plane that was built for my father for his administration that wasn't finished until after he left the White House, so my dad finally got to fly on that Air Force One to and from Washington, D.C. Those trips were his first and, of course, his last trips.
So that meant a lot to us also, that we were treated the way they were treated.
And the president of the United States, George Bush, was just so warm and wonderful to all the family. He called me the other day and privately just, you know, gave me his condolences.
The flight to Washington and back was -- you know, it wasn't completely quiet because there were people just sharing stories about dad, but it was reverent is what it was.
COLMES: Our exclusive interview with Michael Reagan just a little bit ago.
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