WHAT MY FATHER WOULD SAY TO AMERICA

It’s been a common occurrence in my life for years – people telling me they miss my father. But from the rancor of the campaign to the new dawn of Biden’s win, I’ve heard it much more often. I’ve always said thank you, I’ve always reflected quietly to myself how missing my father was a thread that ran through my life, since his sweet elusiveness left all his children wanting more from him. But something changed in me since Tuesday November 3rd. I have never missed him more or felt it as powerfully.

The story of a child longing to be closer to a parent is not unique. What makes the Reagan family unique is that my father went on to parent America. Because of that, I’ve had a complicated relationship with America. I resented this country for harnessing so much of his attention. I resented it when he was brought to tears by the National Anthem, or occasionally by the sight of the flag. My father’s love for America was deep and abiding, and there for all to see. I have never doubted that he loved his children, but I longed for his eyes to well up; I longed for it to be as obvious to everyone as his love for this country was.

I get it now. As the days following the election dragged on and Donald Trump kept tearing at the seams of our democracy, my tears fell often. I wished so much that I could sit with my father and listen again to him talk about the dream of America, the gift of a country anchored in democracy, tethered to a Constitution created to protect us from tyranny, structured around We the People. America allowed a boy from the Midwest with an alcoholic father and little money to dream beyond the limits of his life and become President of the United States. I wished I could tell him that I love this country too, and right then it was breaking my heart. I wish now that I could share happier tears with him, hopeful tears, a glimpse of promise that under a new presidency we will find a way to mend what the past four years have broken.

There is no doubt in my mind that if my father could have witnessed all that’s happened to us since 2016, he would be horrified that the office of the presidency could be sullied by such lack of dignity, such vitriol, dishonesty, and appetite for chaos. He wouldn’t understand how anyone would want to keep in office a man who cares nothing for the people he was elected to govern and who sees the Constitution as a moveable object.

And yet, he would have found a way to comfort us even in the darkest of times. He’d have seen it as his mission to steer us back to the better angels of our nature. When Donald Trump looks out at the American people, his eyes try to ferret out the worst in us. My father’s eyes reached for the best in us. So do Joe Biden’s. He reminds me of my father at times, holding onto dignity even in the face of crass ugliness and unabashed cruelty, refusing to surrender his faith that we are a good and noble country even when we don’t act like it.

When I was a child and had a nightmare, it was always my father who came in to comfort me. He would sit on the edge of the bed, dry my tears, and tell me that monsters were only in my imagination, that I was safe. For the past four years, so many in this country have not felt safe. My father’s gift was the same as Joe Biden’s – both men figured out how to hold onto faith even when things were crumbling around them. Both men never stopped believing that Americans will always rise up in the end and grab onto the torch of what this country is supposed to be.

Like many of us today, my father would be brought to tears again for this country, for its wounds and for its resilience. For its tears and its triumphs. And for a road ahead that looks a little brighter than it did yesterday.

 

8 Responses to WHAT MY FATHER WOULD SAY TO AMERICA

  1. Florence Carroll says:

    Although I didn’t vote for your father I was comforted at times by his compassion and the dignity he brought to the office of the presidency. May he Rest In Peace.

  2. Sally Edelstein says:

    I’ve thought of your father in these past few days and how he would be heartened to know our democracy worked today. The American spirit and American dream gets to live again.
    Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts so eloquently.

  3. Tina Simone says:

    I am sure that your father would be appalled by the lack of dignity and grace from the White House and regardless of party, would be pleased to see that it will be restored again with the next administration.

  4. Ruth Thomas says:

    We hav e had an abusive parent for the last 4 years. Tears of joy are replacing the tears of horror.. .the enormous difference from the days you father was president to 2016 is the ability to disagree with hate….although I didn’t agree with much of your fathers politics, I never questioned his love of country and his intent. I know your dad would be waving a flag tonight and cheering with the crowds

  5. AliJ says:

    I’ve thought of your father and other past Presidents and wondered what they would think of the mockery that such an important office it had become. I pray dignity will be restored to the office. Your Dad was President for my elementary and high school years. I now have a 12 year old politically active daughter who was named for your Dad. I gave her the middle name Hope as I felt your Dad always had hope for our country to become better. Thank you for sharing your Dad with us, I know it was not easy for you.

  6. Clearwater Fl says:

    Real democrats and real republicans which are real Americans like your father was still love him and miss him!

  7. Pamela says:

    I so share your feelings and finally have hope again that the damage done by the psychopath of a president we’ve endured can be reversed. It’s taken a toll on my mental health in ways I could have never imagined. Humanity has been non existent the past four years. I only worry that almost half the country still worships the darkness of Trump. Thank you for sharing yourself. You inspire me.

  8. The Iraqi American says:

    I’ve been voting red since I become a proud American in 2012, I voted for senator Romney in 2012, trump in 2016, and I skipped the presidency in 2020, I hope the Republican Party will be reformed and put back in the track, the track of Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, we can’t just lose our values because of one person.
    God bless America

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