*A Father's Last Gift*
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Good afternoon HeartTouchers.com readers!
My wife, children, and I found ourselves riveted in front of our TV this past Friday night watching Friday's burial service for former President Ronald Reagan. I was very touched by the whole service, but was moved to tears by what President Reagan's son Michael said that night. I too am striving to leave a legacy, or gift, to my children in the very same way that Michael describes below.
Douglas W. Phillips shares his thoughts on what Ronald Reagan's son shared last Friday night. Douglas shares exactly what I was feeling as I wiped away the tears after listening to a son share about the legacy his father left him....
As Father's Day approaches I thought it was most appropriate to share with all of you for today's HeartTouchers story.
From my family to yours,
A Father's Last Gift
By Douglas W. Phillips
During his eight years in the office of president, Ronald Wilson Reagan left an indelible mark on this nation and the world. However, the greatest message of Ronald Reagan's life came not through his letters or public speeches, but through the testimony of a devoted son he helped to lead to Jesus Christ. As the California sun waned magnificently in the backdrop of the Reagan Library before the television cameras of America and the few select guests present for the closing funeral homage to our fortieth president, a lone figure rose to the podium to speak. It was the president's son, Michael. His intensely personal words were stunning for their simplicity, their eloquence, and their boldness. Here is what he said:
"Good evening. I'm Mike Reagan. You knew my father as governor, as president. But I knew him as dad. I want to tell you a little bit about my dad. A little bit about Cameron and Ashley's grandfather because not a whole lot is ever spoken about that side of Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan adopted me into his family 1945. I was a chosen one. I was the lucky one. And all of his years, he never mentioned that I was adopted either behind my back or in front of me. I was his son, Michael Edward Reagan.
When his families grew to be two families, he didn't walk away from the one to go to the other. But he became a father to both. To Patti and then Ronnie, but always to Maureen, my sister, and myself.
We looked forward to those Saturday mornings when he would pick us up, sitting on the curve on Beverly Glen as his car would turn the corner from Sunset Boulevard and we would get in and ride to his ranch and play games and he would always make sure it ended up a tie.
We would swim and we would ride horses or we'd just watch him cut firewood. We would be in awe of our father. As years went by and I became older and found a woman I would marry, Colleen, he sent me a letter about marriage and how important it was to be faithful to the woman you love with a P.S.: You'll never get in trouble if you say I love you at least once a day, and I'm sure he told Nancy every day ``I love you'' as I tell Colleen.
He also sent letters to his grandchildren. He wasn't able to be the grandfather that many of you are able to be because of the job that he had. And so he would write letters. He sent one letter to Cameron, said: ``Cameron, some guy got $10,000 for my signature. Maybe this letter will help you pay for your college education. He signed it, Grandpa. P.S. Your grandpa is the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan. He just signed his sign.''
Those are the kinds of things my father did.
At the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, my father and I would tell each other we loved each other and we would give each other a hug. As the years went by and he could no longer verbalize my name, he recognized me as the man who hugged him. So when I would walk into the house, he would be there in his chair opening up his arms for that hug, hello, and the hug goodbye. It was a blessing truly brought on by God.
We had wonderful blessings of that nature. Wonderful, wonderful blessings that my father gave to me each and every day of my life.
I was so proud to have the Reagan name and to be Ronald Reagan's son. What a great honor. He gave me a lot of gifts as a child. Gave me a horse. Gave me a car. Gave me a lot of things. But there's a gift he gave me that I think is wonderful for every father to give every son.
Last Saturday, when my father opened his eyes for the last time, and visualized Nancy and gave her such a wonderful, wonderful gift.
When he closed his eyes, that's when I realized the gift that he gave to me, the gift that he was going to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He had, back in 1988 on a flight from Washington, D.C. to Point Mugu, told me about his love of God, his love of Christ as his Savior. I didn't know then what it all meant. But I certainly, certainly know now.
I can't think of a better gift for a father to give a son. And I hope to honor my father by giving my son Cameron and my daughter Ashley that very same gift he gave to me.
Knowing where he is this very moment, this very day, that he is in Heaven, and I can only promise my father this. Dad, when I go, I will go to Heaven, too. And you and I and my sister, Maureen, that went before us, we will dance with the heavenly host of angels before the presence of God. We will do it melanoma and Alzheimer's free. Thank you for letting me share my father, Ronald Wilson Reagan."
President Reagan had many strengths, but he is not generally recognized as having been a strong, involved, and intimate father. When I think of President Reagan and his relationship with his own children, I am reminded of the many biblical stories of tragedy and triumph, of victory and failure within the lives of patriarchs and kings depicted in the narratives from Genesis to Malachi. Somewhere along the long political life of Ronald Reagan, a crucial connection was not made with several of the children, some of whom publicly dishonored their father with highly inappropriate behavior and comments.
But here, through the words of Michael, we get a glimpse at the fatherhood of Ronald Reagan and the power for good that comes when older men continue to disciple their grown children. In Michael's testimony about the then septuagenarian Reagan sharing his faith with his son, we see the hope of a patriarch who desires to know that his children will pass his faith on to future generations and someday stand with him in Paradise.
And so, in Ronald Reagan's last public moment, with the leaders of the world present, with all of America watching, we see the beauty and glory of the grace of God personified through the beaming radiant countenance of a son who loved his father from the depth of his soul. Yes, Michael Reagan beamed. He beamed with the confidence of a man who knows his God, and a son who loved his father.
Michael Reagan performed the duty of a true covenant-keeping son. He communicated to his own children, and the children of the world, the essence of the heart of his father. In so doing, he delivered on behalf of his father the message that the imperfect, aged, but Christ-loving patriarch might have said himself, had Alzheimer's not robbed him of the ability to do so. This is the duty of a true son, and Michael did it well.
How appropriate that the greatest message of Ronald Reagan's life -- his most noble testimony -- was saved for last, and spoken through the words of a son. What was the message? Simply this: The only hope of presidents and paupers, of kings and counselors, is redemption from the penalty of sins and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the world to whom all glory, honor, and dominion is due.
Douglas W. Phillips
Douglas is the father of seven children and president of The Vision Forum, Inc. You can visit his website at: www.VisionForum.com
Thought For The Day:
Thought For The Day:
"Only when we have knelt before God, can we stand before men."
Verse for the Day:
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."--1 Peter 5:6
Kid's Thought For The Day:
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, "Thou shall not kill."
Parent's Thought For The Day
"Women should not have children after 35. 35 children are enough."
Coach's Thought For The Day
"Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good."--Joe Paterno
Writer's Thought For The Day:
"We need to start thinking of writing as an essential joy, not as a road that will lead us to something but a road that we take pleasure in for its own sake. Second, we need to think of writing as an apprenticeship, as something to study." --Ann Patchett
Deep Thought For The Day:
"When I was born I was so surprised I didn't talk for a year and a half."
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MICHAEL T. POWERS
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business
I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever! Love, Trisha Silverhill, AL
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