MEMORIES OF NANCY REAGAN

During the last two years of the Reagan Administration, I worked with Nancy Reagan on her memoirs. When I was first offered the job, I asked my wife if she thought I should take it. She responded: "Just say yes." Mrs. Reagan really liked that story.
  1. Her media image was so frightening that it was difficult for me to get past it. Although I saw no hint of the powerful and vengeful personality I had read about, even my own experience wasn't always enough to put me at ease. But in fact she treated me well and we had a fine and friendly relationship.
  2. Above all, I remember her as vulnerable and grieving. She had lost both parents during the White House years, and she almost lost her husband when he was shot in 1981, although at the time almost nobody knew how seriously the President had been hurt.
  3. One day we were talking in the White House when a call came in for me. My mother had been in a coma, and I learned from this call that she had died. Well, at least I was in the presence of somebody who understood and could offer real sympathy. Of course I left immediately to fly back home, but this moment created an additional bond between us.
  4. This was a difficult book to write because Mrs. Reagan was one of those people who preferred listening to talking. That's a nice quality in a friend, but it made for some challenging times for her co-author.
  5. On a lighter note, we were on the phone one day, she in the White House and I at home in suburban Boston, when I heard her say, "Not now, honey, I'm talking to Bill Novak" Of course there was no doubt as to who "honey" was.
  6. That was one of my favorite moments as a ghostwriter.
  7. She had some hard times and was often misunderstood. Now, I trust, she will find some peace.