Nancy Reagan's Children Honor Her Romance with Ronald in Heart-Wrenching Eulogies: 'Their Love for Each Other Was the Only Sustenance They Needed'
"My parents were two halves of a circle," Patti Davis says of Ronald and Nancy Reagan
Together, Nancy Reagan and her husband, ‘Ronnie,’ wrote a White House love story worthy of Old Hollywood. Subscribe now for an inside look at their extraordinary journey and 52-year marriage, only in PEOPLE
Nancy Reagan‘s daughter, Patti Davis, delivered a heartfelt eulogy at her mother’s funeral Friday before the former First Lady was laid to rest beside the love of her life, former President Ronald Reagan.
Davis, who has opened up in recent days about the complicated relationship she had with her mother, shared poignant memories and funny stories about the former First Lady.
“As her own health declined, she was quite adamant and vocal about reuniting with my father on the other side after her passing,” Davis said of her mother, who died in her sleep at age 94 on Sunday.
“My parents were two halves of a circle, closed tight around a world in which their love for each other was the only sustenance they needed. While they might venture out and include others in their orbit, no one truly crossed the boundary into the space they held as theirs.”
Recalling one summer evening during a family vacation when she was a teenager, Davis said: “I looked out and saw my parents sitting on the sand, close together, heads tilted together in conversation. There was so much vastness around them: the blue pacific, the orange and pink sky, miles of white sand. And then there was the circle of their own private world, as clear as if it had been traced around them, indestructible, impenetrable, an island for two.”
“I knew I would carry that image with me for the rest of my life,” she added.
Davis later described another story that took place after her father was shot. “When my mother rushed to the hospital, they at first wouldn’t let her see him. ‘I have to,’ she said, ‘you don’t understand how it is with us.’ ”
Decades later, as he was on his death bed, Davis said: “The moment before my father died, he opened his eyes, which had been closed for days, and looked straight at my mother. The circle was drawn again as he left this world.”
Nancy’s son, Ron Reagan Jr., also gave an emotional eulogy, telling guests about the many ways in which his mother and father complimented each other.
“She guarded his privacy, she protected him. Both possessed great individual talents but as a couple, they were more than the sum of their parts. And it would be a mistake, by the way, to consider her as somehow subordinate to him because he was usually taking center stage. They were co-equals. They complemented one another. Individually they may have gone far but together they could, and did, go anywhere.”
Reagan’s family – along with former President George W. Bush, First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter – gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, for the service.
Reagan planned the details of her own funeral ceremony, “from the program participants to the flowers, peonies, her favorite,” an official from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation previously told PEOPLE.
“We did add one thing to the program that she hadn’t specifically requested – President Reagan loved bagpipe music, and his funeral ended by the playing of bagpipes. We have decided to end her funeral the same way, as a tribute to him and their love.”
The former First lady, who told close friends she longed to be reunited with her beloved “Ronnie” in the afterlife, will be buried right beside the former president on the library’s grounds.
Other political figures and celebrities among the approximately 1,000 guests at the funeral were: Caroline Kennedy, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt and Callista Gingrich, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Bo Derek, Anjelica Huston, Larry King, Wayne Newton, Melissa Rivers, Diane Sawyer, Tom Selleck,Tina Sinatra, Gary Sinise, John Stamos and Mr. T.
Brokaw also paid tribute to Reagan, noting that last weekend “would have been the 68th anniversary of their marriage, Ronnie and Nancy.”
And former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, a longtime friend of the Reagans, read one of the hundreds of love letters Nancy’s husband wrote her.
Describing the many different women Nancy was to him – First Lady, mother and wife, “the sentimental you, the fun you and the ‘Peewee Powerhouse’ you” – the former president wrote, “Fortunately all these women in my life are you. Fortunately for me, that is, for there could be no life for me without you. Browning asked, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ For me there is no way to count, I love the whole gang of you.”