Reagan's Daughter Defends Dad

10/14/1998 at 12:00 AM EDT

All is not lost for Alzheimer's victim Ronald Reagan, claims his daughter, Patti Davis. "Recently, my brother, Ron, and I visited him, and his eyes drank us in, sparkled -- maybe not as brightly as before, but brightly enough," Davis wrote in an op-ed piece this week in the Los Angeles Times about her father's health. "I want you to know that he winked at me, which hadn't happened in a while. I've missed his wink. I grew up with it. It says, 'Come on, don't take life too seriously.' " The piece is said to be in response to reports (that have been growing in intensity lately) that the former President, 89, is now facing a swift decline. "I want you to know that my father held onto my hand, his grip still strong, resilient," wrote Davis. "I want you to see his hands -- older now, yes, but still the hands that built riding jumps from telephone poles, hoisted saddles and his small children onto horses, constructed science projects and assembled Christmas toys. His fingers grip my hand with all that history. No disease takes that away."

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