It was, for the Reagan family, a difficult week. On the afternoon of Jan. 12, former President Ronald Reagan fell in the bedroom of his Bel Air, Calif., home and broke his hip. Within minutes he was rushed with his wife, Nancy, to St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, where surgeons repaired the fracture the next morning. Forty-eight hours later Reagan, 89, was sitting up in a chair. “His physical condition is extraordinary,” a close friend says of Reagan, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, “and Nancy, I promise you, has not left his side.”
Sadly, Reagan was not the only family member checked in at St. John’s. For more than a month, Maureen Reagan, 60, his daughter with first wife Jane Wyman, had been receiving chemotherapy for malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Constantly with her have been her husband, Sacramento public relations executive Dennis Revell, 48, and their daughter, Rita, 14.
When Nancy, a frequent visitor, told Maureen her father was at the same hospital, “it was a shock,” says Revell. Though too ill to see her father, Maureen was inspired by word of his rapid recovery to stand up from her bed. “They are both fighters and will hopefully make strong recoveries,” says Nancy, 79.
Friends say that of Reagan’s four children Maureen remains closest to her father, working for Alzheimer’s groups and, until her illness, traveling from her home in northern California to visit him two or three times a month. She also shows flashes of the elder Reagan’s disarming wit, as she did last October when one of her doctors interrupted a formal dinner to come to her bedside garbed in a tux. “I don’t know much about this hospital,” she joked, “but I sure like the dress code.”