You're sitting there on Air Force One wondering what in the world the
Joint Chiefs are thinking of. Why would they suggest such a thing? Castro
is getting older and older, why try these stupid tricks that can only
backfire? You look out the window on the final approach to Washington.You
know your helicopter, Marine One, is waiting for you with its escorts.
Nancy's back at the White House arranging a terrific dinner and then
after a few more days of meetings, it's off to the Western White House.
The ranch. The one place where you are really at ease. Out of range,
really, of all the cameras, all the reporters and all of the mumbo jumbo.
Just take that old ax and give it a full-arm swing. Hear the mighty
crack of the sharp metal blade against the wood. Watch the chips fly.
It's so invigorating. You can feel your muscles twitch in anticipation.
Someone hands you the phone,
"Mr. President, it's for you. It's the Vice President." That
guy again. You say hello and discuss how you should remember to mention
his shepherding of the White House while you were in China. How he has
done such a magnificent job. His strangely angular face is clearly in
your mind, and his wry, knowing smile. As though he is inevitable, waiting.
Well, it's not over yet. The plane's massive landing gear goes down
with a thump thump, the pilot alerts you and the Presidential party
that landing is imminent and everyone takes their seat. You love this
time. Everyone is out of the way, safely in their seats and you, The
President Of The United States, are alone with your thoughts. What are
you thinking about? Nancy of course. How she is always there to soften
things. Always there at night when you go to bed to tell you she loves
you and that everything will be all right. Always there through the
thick and the thin. The plane is roaring to a stop. Everyone is bustling
around you. The President needs this. The President needs that. The
President is getting ready. Open the door.
You stand in the doorway before the world. Camera flashes go off like
strobe lights, endlessly. People are shouting and asking questions.
You raise your hands in a two-handed Presidential wave. You are glad
to be back at the seat of power. The world applauds your famous smile,
your famous enthusiasm and gregariousness. The world loves you and the
world knows you love them. The flashing lights, the loud cheers, the
crowds pressing in. The entertainer in you has to admit,
it's a great life....
"Ronnie..." someone is calling you. Who is it? "Ronnie,
it's me, Nancy." You turn in the direction of the sound, but there
are only strangers. Who are all these people, you ask? What do they
want? You notice the cardigan sweater you're wearing and the soft material
of the chair you are sitting in. "He doesn't recognize me,"
the voice says. Who? Who doesn't? you ask, bewildered.
Then, you're walking to the limousines and waving. The band is playing.
Aides are running ahead and the Secret Service is fanning out. As you
get into the limo, a smartly-dressed female aide hands you the red phone,
and says, "Mr. President, it's for you." You take it and say,
"Hello, this is The President...."
"Look, he's fallen asleep again," she says, disappointed.
"He just doesn't know me anymore." It's so sad, she thinks,
but never speaks it. He was the President and the world waited for his
every word. Now look at him. So sick. So alone. Just sitting there,
day after day. So sad. So sad...
"Yes, we can definitely do that. But the Wall still bothers me.
It has to go. Without that everything else looks like business as usual."
The limo is now moving through the rush hour traffic and you are waving
to the commuters as you speak into the phone, rushing past them. Important
Presidential things have precedence. They understand.
the crowds standing along Pennsylvania Avenue, it's the same old Ronald
Reagan, smiling through the window, waving on his way into the heart
of history. The people see their owned blurred reflections in the tinted
limousine windows with his familiar face behind, inside at the same
time as though he was in the crowd with them and they were in the car
all the same, together. As the big car turns into the White House driveway
the image lingers in their eyes and their minds.
The old man in the soft-material chair, in the smooth cardigan sweater
is asleep, smiling. There is someone crying softly in the room, lovingly,
as though she is hanging on, not letting go, long after all is lost.
She knows that memories are all any of us have and they must be indulged,
enjoyed, and suffered. Else the cold hand of fate has its darkest way
with us. And, that, we cannot never allow.
See you next time.