07/08/2011 06:15 pm ET Updated Sep 07, 2011

What I Learned from My Mother, Nancy Reagan

My mother has said goodbye to a lot of her friends in the past few years; she has whispered affectionate words in hushed hospital rooms and later attended the funerals. So it’s not surprising that, as she turns 90, the end of her own life is sometimes on her mind. She speaks about the time when she will see my father again. She comes up with random memories, often a propos of nothing. They just arrive in the midst of a conversation--like telling me recently about the time when I was a toddler and had my first kiddie swimming lesson. My father, having been a lifeguard, insisted that his children learn to swim as soon as possible, which meant we weren’t even that proficient at walking when we were signed up for swim lessons.

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