Gipper notes.

When does a person begin to die? The Bob Dylan definition works as well as any: “He not busy being born is busy dying.” (Maybe I’ve finally found my vanity license plate: BZBNGBRN.) But after watching both my parents die in the last three years, I’d say the real turn toward home starts when you’re no longer in control of your own forward movement. If you’re able to push yourself in a wheelchair, you’re still swinging. But once you’ve become cargo for someone else to move from place to place, I’d say your quality of life has dipped into the red zone. My mother, who had Parkinson’s and eventually died of pancreatic cancer (officially, anyway), was more or less inert for the last seven years of her life. She never complained about this, but once she reached the point where it was difficult to hold her head up and she could no longer feed herself, I started actively hoping for this cup to pass. I didn’t wish her dead, but I wished her something better, and there just wasn’t any alternative. My dad was pretty shaky at the end, too, but the fact he went from ambulatory-with-cane to his funeral mass in just under two weeks? This was a blessing.

Your mileage may vary. I’m just thinking out loud here.

In the newspaper business, when a prominent person develops a bad cough, so to speak, we prepare an obituary. Some people are so prominent we have one in the drawer from the get-go; President Clinton’s is waiting in a file somewhere at the New York Times, and President Reagan’s was, too. But Reagan’s has been regularly polished for at least a decade. The reaper-is-nigh advisories have been going out for years, only to be waved off later. This was a very, very long decline. Even when my mom’s body had utterly failed her, her mind remained sharp. Reagan’s family lost both years ago.

So, for his family, I have all the sympathy in the world. I’m glad it’s over for them. I know exactly how they feel.

As for Reagan Himself, let’s leave that for another day, or the comments. OK, one quick note: This was the headline on my News/Free Press today:


Oh, that liberal media.

Posted at 11:29 am in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Gipper notes.”

  1. Connie said on June 6, 2004 at 3:07 pm

    We listened to Neil Conan’s hour long special about Reagan on NPR last night on our way back from Chicago. Definitely produced some time ago and held for the occasion. Unfortunately it includes commentary from “San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown” presented as if it were current commentary.

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  2. Maureen said on June 6, 2004 at 4:29 pm

    I hear you. Both of my incredibly smart, courageous, talented, and kind parents got Alzheimer’s. After several years of taking care of them, I started reading the obituaries daily, just to convince myself that people really did die. It’s shameful to recall, but I wanted the pain to be over.

    On another point – Nancy, I really think you are great. But you are getting so snarky, your blog is hard to read. Just give those toss-aways a rest. It is tiresome, and tired, and really demeans your work.

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  3. 4dbirds said on June 6, 2004 at 7:16 pm

    FTR, I love snark. As for the gipper. Ding Dong the witch is dead.

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  4. deb in milwaukee said on June 6, 2004 at 10:40 pm

    i wasn’t a reagan fan, but i did appreciate my newspaper’s headline: “mourning in america.”

    p.s. what on earth does maureen mean, you’re GETTING snarky? you’ve been that way as long as i’ve known you. it’s one of your best qualities.

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  5. PollyMo said on June 7, 2004 at 9:41 am

    Reading the news coverage, especially the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s headline “President who Won the Cold War” brings me back (in a Proustian way) to the election where I sat in the television lounge of Allison Hall at Northwestern University and was SHOCKED that he was elected. Growing up on a heavily Irish-Catholic democratic neighborhood in Cleveland Ohio, I had not know any Republicans till I went to college. As politically ignorant as I was (chemistry major, not Medill), I remember thinking how could so many people have been so fooled by a candidate who would act against their best interests.

    This morning, I told my daughter (10 years old) that the act I most respect him for was placing O’Conner on the Supremes. I note that I haven’t seen that act prominantly featured in the news coverage.

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  6. Janet Dahl said on June 7, 2004 at 11:53 am

    Snarky is the fastest way to get the job done sometimes. It is also an excellent parent and spouse management tool. You can be my designated media snarker any time.

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  7. Barry said on June 7, 2004 at 12:17 pm

    Proustian way? Your newspaper smelled of madeleines?? What kind of ink do they use? Need to get Ft. Wayne Newspapers to buy some of that stuff.

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  8. Maureen said on June 7, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    You’re right. I like the snark too. My response was motivated by the same old, threadworn, “oh that liberal media” snark. It’s like listening to my six year old tell the same joke over and over and over again. It starts to grate and then to seem really stupid. Sorry if that sounds offensive – I know you are sharp as a tack and all that, and I am just referring to this specific comment.

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