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"The moment I will remember forever," writes Davis in The Long Goodbye, her memoir about her father Ronald Reagan's 9½-year battle with Alzheimer's disease, "is my mother sitting on a bar chair [in my kitchen] saying, 'I don't know how to be alone. I've never been alone.' She was fighting back tears, looking into a future that chills her with fear." With her book just hitting stores, Davis talks about how she and her mother, Nancy Reagan, are coping since the former President's death in June.
Q: How Is Your Mother Now?
A She is doing okay. The fact that she has a dog is helping a lot. My mother said to me, "You know, when I'm getting ready for bed, I have conversations with Dutchess. I tell her about the day." She never had an animal that was just hers. She is starting to visit with friends more; she's still interested in stem cell research and is very glad [California's] Proposition 71 won.
Are the Two of You in Close Touch? Yes. I call her at the end of every day. And I [visit her] every Sunday, sometimes more often.
Has She Read the Book?
She told me that reading it made her cry. But she paid me a real compliment. She said, "Normally I read very quickly. With your book I'm going slowly because I don't want it to end."
How Is Life Without Your Dad?
Losing a parent changes the whole fabric of your life. Even though we realize in childhood that our parents will someday die, we think it won't feel as strange and surprising as it ends up feeling.
You Write That You Regret the Years Your Political Differences Kept the Two of You Estranged. Do You Still?
I know I'm supposed to think those years were just part of the process. But if I'm really honest, I still flog myself. I still think I wasted a lot of my life.
How Do You Keep Your Father Alive?
I don't have to try. He just seems to always be there.