To everything there is a season.... A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Last weekend was a time to mourn both Ronald Reagan and my cat, Zoey.
I flew to northern Nevada for a few days to visit my son, his wife and my grand-twins. Zoey had moved into Chip's house before I left and been unusually quiet; while I was gone Chip took her to the vet, where she died.
Though she'd recently had her annual physical, the doctor thought it could have been a fast-growing lymphoma, or maybe she found a poisoned mouse. She was 70-something in people time, and might have lived longer if she'd been kept inside; or maybe not. She wouldn't have lived happier, enjoying as she did our adjoining yards.
Since there was nothing to be done from Nevada, I shed a few tears and continued with my vacation.
We were at the Ponderosa Ranch on Lake Tahoe when former President Reagan died. I soon learned that this was appropriate, since in the Western news accounts, much was made of his local environmental policies.
Columnist George Skelton wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "I'll remember him as the 'Man in the White Hat Who Saved the Sierra'... When he was California governor, Reagan led some reporters on a pack trip into the eastern Sierra to declare the Minaret Summit south of Yosemite off limits to federal developers. ... I have this image of Reagan, waving a white hat, on a tall horse, suddenly trotting through a pack station - then bounding over boulders into the High Sierra as staffers and reporters struggled to mount and hold on to some strange beast."
Skelton wrote that Reagan and Nevada Governor Paul Laxalt saved Lake Tahoe by creating a bistate agency to control growth. Reagan also thwarted dam builders who would have flooded a valley sacred to Indians. Eat your hearts out liberal Eastern environmentalists who hated him because he was a Republican.
Proposition 2½ passed the same night that he was elected. My friends and I were part of the Reagan Revolution.
I remember the savage personal attacks, similar to what we now hear aimed at President Bush. Last week, some of the Reagan bashers were suddenly praising him as a ploy to attack Bush, who is, they say, "no Ronald Reagan." But their credibility is low, and they must have been appalled at the outpouring of love toward the object of their longtime hatred.
At the news of this death, however, I felt happy that he is now free of the shell of a life endured by an Alzheimer's patient. I suspect the sadness we saw reflected not the end of his physical life, since he himself has been gone a long time; I think we are nostalgic for the simple pride he made us feel in our country. It seems somehow that we as a people were better then.
Aside from my personal regard for President Reagan's character, I note as a taxpayer his gift that keeps on giving - lower federal income tax rates and a personal exemption still indexed for inflation each year.
I've no objection to putting his face on national currency. Given the choice, this unassuming man might like the shiny copper penny since Abraham Lincoln has both it and the $5 bill. But maybe it's better not to focus on money, a reminder of the national debt that grew during his presidency.
My friend, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, is working on a project to name one place in each U.S. county after the former president. Now that we know that the cliffs along the Marblehead coast aren't really marble, I wouldn't mind living in Reagan, Massachusetts. The Navy should be honored to have its birthplace named after the president who ended the Cold War.
Or if Beverly still insists that it, not Marblehead, is the birthplace of the Navy, it could change its name to establish a connection with the pro-military president. However, the best memorial we as a nation can create in his honor is to strive every day of our lives to justify his faith in the ongoing greatness of America.
I'll also include him in my plans for my memories of Zoey. As I read in a MSPCA tribute to a pet, "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you."
Last weekend, I laughed at happy remembrances while watching the Reagan services in Washington and California, and in between picked up Zoey's ashes at the vet's. This weekend, I will bury them under her chair near my hammock, where she liked to lie.
Saturday is midsummer's eve, a time for the living to dance. Rest in peace, all beautiful pets and people who have passed on.