My wife, Gena, and I were so very honored to have been among those who were invited to the funeral of first lady Nancy Reagan. If it were not for unforeseeable scheduled events already planned in Texas, we would have been there. We did, however, join a multitude around the world by watching a recording of it later in the day.
I will never forget the first time I had the opportunity to meet Mrs. Reagan in 1986, when her office called my secretary inviting me to play tennis at the White House in support of her “Just Say No” anti-drug program.
My secretary then called me and asked if I would like to accept the invitation. I replied enthusiastically, “Of course!” Then I realized I had never played tennis in my life. So, I hired a private tennis instructor to give me some lessons. I only had 10 days before the event. No pressure!
I was so nervous during my first tennis match at the White House that I hit the ball so hard, I think it landed on Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. T, the actor, was the referee and he said, “That’s all right Chuck. You’re doing great.” That was an overstatement, but I appreciated it, nonetheless.
After the tennis event, I was invited with the other celebrities to a meet-and-greet in the White House. When I met President Reagan and first lady Mrs. Reagan, I was so impressed by how genuine both of them were. When they talked to you, you felt like you were the only person in the room.
I had other opportunities through the years to visit with President and Mrs. Reagan, and they are memories I will always cherish.
It is impossible to overstate the influence of Ronald Reagan upon America and the world. The same can also be said of Nancy. In fact, since her passing, it’s been repeatedly said, even by her son Ron at her funeral: “There would be no President Reagan without Nancy Reagan.”
So profound and extensive was her influence that it can also be stated: Conservatism would not be what it is without Nancy Reagan. America would not be what it is without Nancy Reagan. Indeed, our world would not be what it is without Nancy Reagan.
Of her score of contributions in this life, no doubt that Nancy’s greatest were to her husband – something that was repeatedly stated at her funeral by both family and friends. Indeed, articles on their love story permeate the news and Internet.
In an article in U.S. News this past week, “Nancy Reagan: He Needed Only Her,” it stated: “From the beginning, the couple wrapped themselves tightly in each other. Reagan would say that coming home to Nancy was like coming out of the cold into a warm room with a fireplace. If she was leaving on a trip, he would put her vitamin pills in a bottle and leave it out for her. He left her love notes and cards for her birthday, their anniversary and Valentine’s Day, often with a scrawl at the bottom – ‘I.T.W.W.W.W’ for ‘I love you more than anything in the whole wide world.’ ….’My life didn’t really begin until I met Ronnie,’ Nancy [also] said of her husband.”
I loved the story that Brian Mulroney, the former Canadian prime minister, told at her funeral about the time in 1987 when he and President Reagan were in an Ottawa hanger awaiting the arrival of Nancy Reagan. When she stepped off the plane, the president leaned over to the prime minister and whispered, “For two Irish men, we sure married up!”
It’s love like theirs that will go on for all eternity, and it was their faith that opened the door for it.
In a final faith statement, Mrs. Reagan planned that the following passages in Scripture be read at her funeral by three different readers for the whole world to hear, so that there would be no doubt where their faith stood:
“We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.” (The Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (Jesus words in John 14:1-6)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die.'” (John 11:25-26)
Lastly, let me tell you the words that Nancy heard in heaven when she was not only reunited with her beloved husband but also her Savior, who said to her, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”