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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Patti Davis
Aired November 19, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Ronald and Nancy Reagan's daughter Patti Davis in her first live primetime interview since the death of her father, she's here for the hour, we'll take some calls later on LARRY KING LIVE.
A terrific new book has just been published by Knopf. I got the opportunity to read it. The author is Patti Davis. And the book is "The Long Goodbye." There you see its cover. It's also available in talking books as well on CD. The talking book is read by Patti.
I know you have this book planned for a long time and then held off like the last chapter. Why?
PATTI DAVIS, PRESIDENT REAGAN'S DAUGHTER: You know, it started as an accident sort of. Not really an accident, but I didn't intend to write a book. I sat down to just write after about 6 months after my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Wrote his letter to the country. I did what writers do. I was so overwhelmed by this passage that we were all starting to go through that I just sat down to write.
And I got about 10 or 15 pages. And I thought well, maybe I'm writing a magazine piece. And when the story is finished I always wanted it to to write about this whole journey that we were on. You know, maybe I'll public it as a magazine piece. Because I liked what I had written. And I felt it had relevance to other people.
Then I got 40, 50 pages. And realized I was writing a book. And years sort of lumbered on.
KING: And you did other writing in between. You wrote articles?
DAVIS: Well, not -- not the first couple years. My earpiece just fell out. It does that matter?
KING: You don't need it now.
DAVIS: Not the first couple of years. I pretty much was working on this book. But I got to a place in about 1997 where I thought I had a couple other pages done, and I was with Knopf.
And I just felt that we were entering this long stream of waiting for the end that we knew was going to come. I didn't -- didn't think I had anything new today say. I didn't know, none of us did, that seven years would go by. But seven more years went by.
KING: What's the worst thing about it for the caregiver? DAVIS: Well, other than the obvious, that language falls away and accessibility to memories and conversation. Other than that, I think the hardest thing is that you don't want this person to be eroded anymore by this disease. It's such a cruel disease. You don't want Alzheimer's to steal any more of them. But the only other alternative is death. So there is a lot of guilt tied up in that.
KING: Do you ever want them to go?
DAVIS: Well, I think it's -- you start to see death as a release from this very cruel very disease. But then we have so much -- so many mixed emotions I think about death, particularly in the culture. We are very awkward about is, and very shy about it. So, it's an interesting sort of cocktail of emotions that you go through. And not -- not an easy combination of emotions.
KING: Why do you gather, and you have to gather this, Patti, you write so eloquently. You do by the way. What do you gather the patient is going through? Don't you try to think what is in his head?
DAVIS: You do. And something is going on even in the latter -- not maybe the very latter stages. But you know my father's expressions would change. I mean, suddenly his eyes looked like he had thought of something funny. Or sometimes he would look very frightened. Just fear would come into his eyes. And I'm talking about late into it when there really wasn't language anymore. It was just something, even in his conscious mind.
But then the other answer to that which I try to make clear in this book is that -- the person's soul doesn't have Alzheimer's your soul can't be sick. So, I think that that is the salvation when you have a loved one, particularly with a disease like Alzheimer's is to remember that past that disease, beyond that disease, beyond what looks like total destruction of a human being, there is a soul that cannot be sick.
KING: How did you deal with nonrecognition? You're his daughter?
DAVIS: I dealt with it in exactly the way that I just said. In his soul, he knew everything. In his soul, he knew who I was. So -- so it enabled me to approach my father from a different place in myself. Rather than my conscious mind going, well his conscious mind doesn't recognize me, it becomes this sort of a bit of a surreal exchange.
KING: When you visited, would you talk to him?
DAVIS: Yes. We all did. We all did.
And you know sometimes even, even very late in the disease he would -- he'd say something and he'd go, uh-huh. I don't know, if it was an accident or consciously. But no we, we stood around his bed and we talked to each other and talked to him. And we acted as if he was just a part of the conversation. KING: There were so many, and you write about this, ups and downs for you growing up in this family. Was there ever a period of --when you had political differences, where you were apart, you and your dad?
DAVIS: Sure. I mean off and on. But particularly in the 80s when in the 80s when he was president. Sure, yes.
KING: You disagreed. Wasn't it hard. He's your father. And you love him. And you don't want to vote for him.
DAVIS: Well I did disagree with his politics. But disagreeing with his politics wasn't -- what weighs on my conscience and what's hard for me to get past, it's the way in which I expressed myself. And I do write about that.
KING: You're sorry about it?
DAVIS: Yes, of course. My father would never have said about any of his children you shouldn't express your opinions. But it's the way in which you express them. And for me to do -- to speak at demonstrations and be as strident as I was now I see wasn't right. And it -- there was a better way to do it. I could have written articles. I could have had a more dignified. But I had no dignity then.
KING: How do you explain Patti to yourself your own rebellious nature?
DAVIS: I don't think it really is that different from what other people go through with their parents. It's just that we had such a bright spotlight on us. We were -- we were under such scrutiny that it magnified everything.
So, this big stage that we were put on under this bright spotlight was the only place I had to play out the rebelliousness that I think everybody goes through at some point to one degree or another. You have to separate yourself from your parents. You do. In order to find yourself.
KING: Every daughter goes through it with their mother. There's always a mother-daughter...
DAVIS: Mother-daughter relationships are...
KING: Like this, right? Roller coasters. You're up at the top now, right?
DAVIS: Yes, yes.
KING: Did that come back because of the illness?
DAVIS: No, it came back before. I was really on the road to mending my relationship with my parents before my father's diagnosis and announcement.
KING: And that's a relief?
DAVIS: I'm very grateful that I was already on that path, because I would have had to run really fast, really hard to make up those miles, to get to where I -- where I was when -- when the diagnosis came.
KING: Our guest is Patti Davis. When I come back I'm going to read an excerpt from this book, because of how great she writes. Have her read a couple too. Take some phone calls, later. The book is, "The Long Goodbye." The guest is Patti Davis. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN: I see another one.
DAVIS: Where, daddy?
REAGAN: Right here. What's that?
DAVIS: Mommy's iron.
NANCY REAGAN: That's right, honey. It's one of those new steam- and-dry irons. Gets hot in seconds. Just imagine. Here is another one you ought to know.
DAVIS: Waffle iron.
N. REAGAN: Yes, it's a combination grill too.
DAVIS: Mommy, this game is fun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Why didn't you stay with that? You could have had a career in that?
DAVIS: Commercials, waffles and GE products.
KING: The book is "The Long Goodbye." This is July 1995, it's written that way, by Patti Davis.
"Often now I think of the stories I would look to hear again in my father's voice and the blue twinkles of his eyes that delighted in feeding a child's imagination. But I have to nourish myself on echoes. I want him to tell me again how to distinguish a hawk from a buzzard. There are several differences in their flight paths, their wings. One circles longer before diving down for its prey.
I used to get them mixed up frequently, and he would patiently explain it to me again, or point out the differences if we were at a ranch and he spotted either of the birds overhead.
I still get them mixed up. But I can't ask him. He no longer remembers. I want us to mount horses and ride off over the slope of green hills. But he will never again get on a horse."
Isn't that tough to write?
DAVIS: It would have been tough for me not to write. I mean, I don't know what else to do.
KING: That's your expression form?
DAVIS: Yeah, I don't know what else to do with things that are -- that I'm going through, that are -- especially that are so huge and so overwhelming. You know, the thing about losing any loved one, I think, particularly in a long disease, is that you know that other people have gone through it and are going through it, but I think for every person it feels unique. It feels like.
KING: It's your experience.
DAVIS: It's your experience, it feels like nobody else is going through it, even though you know they are.
KING: You write of a letter he wrote to you, but never sent.
KING: You found it in a drawer. Tell us about that.
DAVIS: My mother found it. And it was a letter written on yellow legal paper. It was around the time that my autobiography came out and he had heard about it, and he had heard that is was not flattering.
And he -- he saved it for over a year and still never sent it. Because he crossed out his age at one point, from 80 to 81. And the last -- it was very short letter. I mean, really never finished it. But the last lines on there were something, something like "Patti, please don't take away our memories of the daughter we love." I mean, it broke my heart.
KING: Why did you pose for "Playboy"?
DAVIS: Why did I pose for "Playboy"? You know, the truth is, the idea for that came to me like 20 years earlier, when I started weight training. And I walked into World Gym, the old World Gym. And there were black and white nude photographs of Lisa Lyon. Do you remember Lisa Lyon? She was one of the first female bodybuilders, before women were taking steroids and stuff like that. And she used to take self-photographs, you know, on a timer and stuff. And they were beautiful. They were absolutely beautiful. Her musculature and stuff. And I looked at those and thought, God, if I ever can get my body to look that strong, and that sculpted and I'm proud of my musculature, I would love to do some kind of nude something, because it seemed so powerful, in a good way. You know? And so free. And I just love the -- the aesthetic of it.
And then, 20 years later -- oh, I'm sorry, not 20 years later, 10 years later. It was -- I'm bad at time. It was 1994. So may I point out my father was out of office for five years and I was 41.
KING: I'm not knocking it, I'm asking...
DAVIS: I know, I know, I know, but people think, oh, her father was president. You know, he was, but he'd been out for five years.
PETA, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, was -- had been approached by "Playboy" to do something for the I'd rather go naked than wear fur. My name came up, because I had done some work for PETA. And it kind of went from there. "Playboy" went, oh, well, let's talk to her. And then it got to a cover. And then it was -- they also did do a photograph with me for the I'd rather go naked than wear fur. And I gave half the money that I got to PETA.
KING: How did your mom react?
DAVIS: Well, I don't think she was very happy about it, but you know what? I will tell you this and she will -- I don't think she will be mad at me for telling you this. But after I did "Playboy," a couple of months afterwards, Nancy Sinatra Jr. did it. And I found out because obviously I knew people at "Playboy." I found out that Nancy looked really good in her photos before the magazine came out, and I told my mother that. And she called Nancy Sr. and told her that her daughter looked really good in the magazine that's coming out. So these two mothers were talking about their daughters have posed for "Playboy."
KING: Your mother was extraordinary through all of this? Agreed?
KING: Did you know she had that -- that gumption?
DAVIS: I did.
KING: So even when you were clashing, there was a kind of respect?
DAVIS: Yes, you know, I mean, we've, even -- even we would go through periods of clashes, but then if something dramatic happened to me in my life, I would go right to her. If I was in a crisis in my life, I would go right to her. It was a very interesting relationship. Interesting road.
KING: How would you describe it now?
DAVIS: I would describe it now as very nurturing and close, and very loving.
KING: You could tell at the funeral how close the two of you were.
We'll come right back. We'll have Patti read from the book. The book is "The Long Goodbye." Terrific memoir. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Patti Davis the daughter of president Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan and the author of "The Long Goodbye." Let's have Patti read an excerpt.
DAVIS: OK. If you are with someone who has Alzheimer's and you pay close attention, if you open wide your heart and your mind you will see that the disease can never cross the boundaries of the soul. For years I had gentle and true conversations with my father between his soul and mine. Sometimes in total silence. There will be people who say that didn't happen, that it can't happen. It's just a wishful fantasy. Don't believe them.
KING: What was the end like?
DAVIS: If a death can be beautiful his was.
DAVIS: Because moments before he died he opened his eyes, his eyes hadn't opened at all in a couple of weeks. He looked at my mother and his eyes were focused and even before that for months his eyes really hadn't focused. And his eyes were blue and they hadn't been blue in at least a year. They had been steadily fading. As the disease encroached on him more his eyes faded in color. It was very...
KING: Like grayish colorless?
DAVIS: Just sort of dusty blue.
KING: They were blue-blue.
DAVIS: They were blue. They were blue. And he looked at my mother and he saw her. It was -- he was right there. And then he closed his eyes and he died. I think it's -- I would wish for anybody to be -- I felt so privileged to be present for the moment of his passing no matter what had happened.
KING: Who was there? The three children and Nancy?
DAVIS: Me, Ron, my mother, Laurel, one of the nurses who was Irish.
KING: Michael wasn't there?
DAVIS: No, he hadn't gotten there yet. And the doctor were there.
KING: How do you explain that? Where did that recognition come from? Where did the blue come from? To yourself, at least explain it?
DAVIS: I explain it in the same way. Well, in what I read in the passage that your soul exists apart from an illness. And his soul came through the body that had been so eroded by this disease.
KING: You disagreed with him politically. That aside. What made him so special?
DAVIS: I've never met anybody before or since who was so comfortable in their own skin. I mean, he had a serenity about him that makes people reach, made people reach for him. Anybody who has that, it makes other people really long to be near them and to know more about them. You can never really sort of completely know someone like that. Because they are so comfortable in their own skin I think.
KING: So you don't know-know them. There's always a part you don't...
DAVIS: There is always a little bit of mystery. There is always an elusiveness I think but it's a very sweet elusiveness. It's not a distance that has any coldness or any chill to it.
KING: No guile?
DAVIS: None. No, none. And even in this disease his sweetness remained. And people with Alzheimer's can...
KING: They can get angry.
DAVIS: They can get angry. They can even get violent. A lot of things can happen. Everybody is different. But he really -- he just kept that sweetness.
KING: When it starts to go -- are those very difficult times when they forget this and then forget that? And you see it happening.
DAVIS: I think the earlier stages of Alzheimer's are the hardest. Particularly because the person knows that they are losing awareness. They're aware that they're losing awareness and you see them struggling.
KING: That would be frightening.
DAVIS: And you see them getting frightened and you see them getting frustrated trying to remeber something. And there is nothing you can do. You feel helpless. They feel helpless. They, I'm sure are aware -- the feeling must be that they're being conquered by something. Which they are, you know. And my father -- I wrote in here. He said, at one point, "my world has turned upside down." I mean, each day, maybe not each day, but as time goes on things that were familiar then aren't.
KING: Do you remember the first time he didn't know you?
DAVIS: I think it happens in stages. It's not just a moment and then you are sort of...
KING: So there would be a moment and then he would come back, right? DAVIS: Yes or I got to the point where I would come in and go, hi, dad, it's Patti. Sometimes I could tell that, well, sometimes he would say where have you been? And it would be when I was living in New York and I was flying back to Los Angeles sometimes. But the truth is I could have been living down the road and come in and he would have probably maybe said where have you been? And then there were other times that I knew he was just giving me that very polite sweet look. And I could have been just a nice girl coming to him.
KING: He remained polite though, right? He opened the door for ladies, stood up when a woman walked in the room, true?
DAVIS: Yes. Sometimes it was hard for him. He got weaker. Even before he broke his knee it got a little bit weaker. And it was hard for him to stand up. And he would still. He was determined. He was determined to do that. One time when I was -- I just thought of this, I wanted to tell you this -- when I was leaving him, and I kissed him on the cheek and I said, bye, I love you. And he, he looked at me and said, thank you. I don't think he knew who I was. But I thought that the response was so sweet. If in his mind I was someone he didn't know and saying, I love you to him and his response was well, thank you. I mean that's lovely. That's really lovely, you know.
KING: Sure is. We'll be right back with Patti Davis. The book is "The Long Goodbye." Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET THATCHER, FMR. BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children.
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As his vice president for eight years I learned more from Ronald Reagan than from anyone I encountered in all my years of public life. I learned kindness, we all did. I also learned courage.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the end, through his belief in our country, and his love for our country, he became an enduring symbol of our country. May God bless Ronald Reagan and the country he loved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIS: ...one who generously offered funeral services for my goldfish on the morning of its demise. We went out into the garden. We dug a tiny grave with a teaspoon. And he took two twigs, lashed them together with twine as a cross as a marker for the grave. And then he gave a beautiful eulogy.
He told me my fish was swimming in the clear blue waters in heaven. And he would swim as far and wide as he wanted. And he never had to stop because the river went on forever. He was free.
When we went back inside and I looked at my remaining goldfish. I suggested that perhaps we should kill the others so they could also going to that clear blue river and be free.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was terrific. Was that hard to do? It was such an amazing funeral.
DAVIS: Is was hard, because I didn't want to cry up there. You know? Of course it was likely that I that I might. And I did sort of choke up at one point. But I just kind of asked, asked my father to help me.
KING: You were with your mom, and I MCed the event for Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and she cam out for embryonic stem cell research. And you are a supporter of that, too. Your brother Ron, right? Do you think you will see any more of it? Do you think we're going to see an administration approve it?
DAVIS: This administration. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. But I think you're going to see more states taking the initiative.
KING: Like California did?
DAVIS: Like California has.
I think it's tragic. I think it's tragic that federal money will not be given to this for, for 4 more years.
KING: You often argue with your brother Michael?
DAVIS: No, I don't like to argue.
KING: Do you discuss -- do you have political discussions?
DAVIS: No. He is entitled to his opinions. And we're entitled to ours.
KING: You share your brother Ron more?
DAVIS: Well, my mother and I and Ron all feel the same about this.
KING: Let's read another passage. The book is "The Long Goodbye."
And by the way, you can get the CD version too. Did you have trouble reading this whole thing, by the way? Did you ever lose it?
DAVIS: I lost it a little bit at the end, very much toward the end. And I had to go. Can we take a minute, please. I just sort of choked up.
But up until then I was pretty good.
"When my father taught me how to body surf, when he explained to me the majesty of the ocean and the respect I must always have for it, he told me that if a wave was about to break on me, I could dive down and wait out the swell in the calmer waters far below.
These days I find myself diving down to calmer waters deep within my soul. There are those places in the soul that are still, silent, soft as water. I feel very much like I did when I hovered near the ocean's sandy bottom. I knew that above me a wave was crashing but around me, the water only swayed a little. There was no churning or somersault currents.
It's that calm I dive down for now in small moments and sometimes for days. I have grown quieter, more withdrawn even from friends who I hope understand. I head for the deep reservoirs of strength I know my soul harbors, because I'll need them, because I need them now.
KING: Take a call for Patti. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I just wanted to ask, Ms. Davis. Well, I first want to tell her we all felt her father's loss on the day of the funeral.
DAVIS: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is I really would look to know the name of the poem that she wrote at the service that was held in California.
KING: What was that? Was that a poem?
DAVIS: No, the last part of my eulogy was not a poem, it was a paragraph from an old book that was published in the 40s called "Peace of Mind" by Joshua Loth Liebman. And I read about it somewhere. And read a couple of lines. And found it. And it is, it is out there. You can find it. But it is a beautiful, beautiful book.
DAVIS: "Peace of Mind," Joshua Loth Liebman.
KING: How did you react to the public's reaction, to that week long opus?
DAVIS: Is was the most amazing week of our lives. I know I speak for the WHOLE family. And people said to me afterwards, it must have been really hard to grieve in public for that week? It wasn't.
I mean, that week held us above the water line. It was just surreal and it was so special and so moving for us, for us to have so many people grieving along with us.
The hard part was when that week ended, because then we had to really inhabit our grief. Then we had to wake up every morning and -- you know with our own personal grief, and our shared grief of the family. But that week was sort of this -- suspension of -- above that. You know, above the work that was -- that was ahead of us.
KING: I have seen your mother a few times. Life gets better though, because it's easier for her isn't it? I mean in the sense there is great loss, but, but there is no burden?
DAVIS: Well there is no waiting for the end that you know is going to come which is a terrible, terrible burden. So -- you know again it's -- a lot of things. You miss -- you miss the physical presence of -- of that person even though they were ill and even though you knew this was.
KING: so, you miss the mere presence in the house?
DAVIS: Yes, I think so. Even though, then you sort of feel guilty for feeling that. Because you don't want some one trapped in that kind of illness.
I think you just have to allow yourself all those different feelings, even though they seem to argue with one another and be conflicting. Because that's -- that is what it is. It's a messy business sort of. You know. Particularly losing some one I think to a long illness when you have had so much tomb to go through it in slow motion. So you really can't edit out and go well I shouldn't feel that way or feel this way. You just have to go this is how I feel.
KING: There is no other thing you can relate to.
Do you think death is harder for people when is is on the public stage? Or is death death?
DAVIS: I think death is death. I mean, in terms of my father. I don't know any other way to my life. It's all I know. But I have had friends die. And I've had personal loss in my own life. On a personal level it's -- it's the same passage. And it's the same journey that you you go on. In the grieving process.
KING: What do you believe happens?
DAVIS: When some one dies?
DAVIS: Well, I don't think death is the end. Just as I don't think your soul can be sick. I don't think your soul can die. I think ...
KING: Go somewhere?
DAVIS: I think our souls have lived before and will live much longer, maybe forever. That's actually what I believe.
KING: So, your dad is somewhere? His soul is some where.
DAVIS: His soul is somewhere. The energy of his soul is -- is somewhere. I feel it around. I know my mother does as well.
KING: Feel him around?
DAVIS: I do. Some times more than others. I heard a wonderful thing years ago that has brought me such solace. A woman was talking about, I think it was her mother who she lost. There is something that happens when you lose a loved one where sometimes the sadness just crashes into you apropos of nothing. It's not that you saw something or smelled something or heard something, it just crashes into you.
And she said that those moments when that happened to her after her mother's death, she felt those were the times her mother was closest to her. That those are the times that her mother's soul had sort of brushed past her in the closest possible way. And that's why the feeling of missing her, the feeling of sadness was so overwhelming at those times.
KING: Do you regret the bad things, the times of differences, and when, you know, things happen growing up? Do you look back now and regret them?
DAVIS: I do. And if someone else said that to me about their lives, I would be the first person to say to them, hey, you can't do that. You did...
KING: You did what you did.
DAVIS: You did the best you could at the time. If you could have done it differently then, you would have. You can't look back 20 years later and say, I should have done it differently. I would say that to someone else. It's very hard for me to say that to myself. No one has beaten me up more than I beat myself up.
KING: Should have, would have, could have. We'll be back with Patti Davis. The book is, "The Long Goodbye." The publisher is Knopf. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. REAGAN: I think it's all too common in marriages that no matter how much partners love each other, they don't thank each other enough. And I suppose I don't thank Nancy enough for all that she does for me. So, Nancy, in front of all your friends here today, let me say thank you for all you do, thank you for your love, and thank you for just being you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Patti. What was special about that relationship? Watching it from a daughter's viewpoint?
DAVIS: Well, I think that they just completed each other. I mean, I think it was one of those relationships that you don't find very often, you don't see very often.
KING: You wish for it?
DAVIS: Sure. Sure.
KING: To find it.
DAVIS: But then I think maybe that's an unfair thing to wish for, because it is so -- you know it is so unusual. I mean, there are a lot of people who have perfectly wonderful relationships, but it's not sort of on that level. There are very few that you really see that are on that level, so I think maybe I shouldn't wish for that, because it's kind of like asking someone to turn water to wine.
KING: The children, sometimes it was written that children felt left out they loved each other so much? Did they do that? Is that true, yes?
DAVIS: Sure. I mean, yes, of course. And I think that that's natural when you are younger and you see this and sense it. You do sense that they complete each other. So it is sort of like two halves of a circle, and you are orbiting outside in a certain way.
But I think, you know, as you get older and you mature, then you gain an appreciation for it. You have a little bit of a remove from that.
KING: Did you explain 9/11 to him?
DAVIS: Sort of. I said that something...
KING: He was far gone by then?
DAVIS: Yes. He was bedridden then. It was after he had broken his hip. And I said that something terrible had happened in the world. And a lot of people had died. And a lot of people missed him terribly, including me, more than I ever -- I mean, I already missed him.
KING: Do you think he understood?
DAVIS: Well, again I think his soul understood. I think he understood past his conscious mind, yes.
KING: By the way, what did you think -- we played a little excerpt of President Bush I, his eulogy?
DAVIS: Is was so human and so warm and so -- and so touching. It really -- we talked about it afterwards on Air Force One.
KING: Oh, yeah?
DAVIS: It was just -- it was so sweet. I mean, you really saw how much he cared for, you know, for my father and how much he was going to miss him.
KING: What was that flight home, with the body on the plane?
DAVIS: Is was like the rest of the week. It was just this surreal sort of thing. You know, that -- I don't think any of us really wanted that week to end. I mean...
KING: Oh, yeah, because he was still alive like in a sense?
DAVIS: Sort of. There was something very beautiful about this flag-draped coffin, and even though you knew is was just his body, the care that was taken. It was on the plane. It would go to the back of the plane and -- I said to my brother the last day before we got to the library, I said, do you think maybe they'd let us keep the plane a little while longer and we could just fly around some more? Go to some other states or something, you know?
I didn't want it to end. And I knew that that last moment, especially for my mother, was going to be the hardest. That's why she broke down there. And that's what she was saying, I don't want to leave him here.
KING: What did you do that night?
DAVIS: We drove back to my -- to my mother's house, and the house was completely dark, because all of the -- the housekeepers were up at the library. And of course, we got home before anybody else. So Ron and Doria and I went running for the house turning on lights. And we went in the kitchen, and Doria fixed scrambled eggs, and Ron and I found the beer and wine, and we sat in the kitchen, at that little formica table.
KING: And your mom?
DAVIS: Yes. No, she sat in the other room, and we sat in the kitchen.
KING: I mean, all of you sat down as a family.
DAVIS: Yes. Ate scrambled eggs and drank wine.
KING: You made fun of me. Want to be back on this program? Don't make fun of the host.
DAVIS: We sent her to her room. We thought she'd been...
KING: All right.
Cincinnati, Ohio, for Patti Davis, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry, how are you.
CALLER: Hi, Patti, how are you? First of all, I would like to just say to you, Patti, that we loved your mom and dad. We think he was one of the greatest presidents that ever lived. And your mother was the epitome of a first lady.
DAVIS: Thank you.
CALLER: And my question is to you, what is one of your fondest memories of your father that you have? And that if you could share one thing special about him that we, the public, don't know. Thank you. And we love you. And please tell your mother we love her.
DAVIS: Thank you so much.
KING: Thank you. I am sure she is watching.
DAVIS: Well, I don't know that I can pick a favorite memory. You know, there actually were so many in this book, and they are sort of like running through my...
KING: It's a terrific book, and there are many, many of them.
DAVIS: They're running through my...
KING: Just little things.
DAVIS: Little things, I mean...
KING: Take you to school.
DAVIS: Yes, but I think my father had a way of teaching his children life lessons through nature. I talked about one in the eulogy, about the little green shoots coming up and fire blackened field just weeks later, to teach me about the cycle of life and death. And, you know, he did that all the time, with animals out at the ranch, out in the ocean. It was his way of teaching you lessons about life. Getting back on a horse after you fall off. You know? I mean, that's -- if that's not a really great life lesson, you know, I don't know what else is.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Patti Davis right after this.
KING: By the way if you want more information about Alzheimer's and Patti is very involved in this. You can contact the Alzheimer's Association on the website at ALZ.org. ALZ.org. Think we're ever going to cure it?
DAVIS: I do. And I think the cure will come from stem cell. It's a -- will be a more difficult cure than diabetes and Parkinson's but I do think that is the next frontier of medicine.
KING: Writing another book?
DAVIS: I have a novel finished called, "Till Human Voices Wake Us." It's been sent to my editor. So I have my fingers crossed that she likes it.
KING: "Till Human Voices Wake Us."
DAVIS: "Till Human Voices Wake Us." It's a line from a T.S. Elliott poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" from the last part of the poem.
KING: You do a lot of reading, too then, don't you?
DAVIS: I do. I never feel like I do as much reading as I want because I write a lot. I would like to go back and reread all of Charles Dickens, but I haven't gotten to that yet.
KING: Your father wrote a lot.
DAVIS: He did.
KING: Wrote letters.
DAVIS: Yes, he did.
KING: Hand letters.
KING: He liked writing.
DAVIS: Yes, he did.
KING: You got that gene.
DAVIS: I guess if it can be passed on in the genes. I guess I did.
KING: How is your mom's dog? Merv Griffin gave her a dog, right?
DAVIS: Merv Griffin gave her a four-month-old -- she's not four months now, she's close to nine, I think now, Sharpei named Duchess. Duchess is doing quite well. Duchess has a very active social life. She's taken out every day with her little posse of dogs.
KING: They are a little funny looking, aren't they?
DAVIS: What, you don't like wrinkles?
KING: They look 30 years old when they're born.
DAVIS: I know. I know. They are. They are funny-looking dogs, yes they are. But we don't tell her that.
KING: What is it like going through the house now?
DAVIS: It is OK now. My mother has actually taken what was my father's room and turned it back to an office. And she uses it. She uses the desk in there for her mail and stuff. She spends a lot of time in that room. And one of the dogs' beds is in there. So the room has taken on another life now. KING: You go to the library?
DAVIS: I haven't been back there actually since the service. I'm going tomorrow to do a book signing.
KING: You're doing a book signing tomorrow?
KING: And are you doing a major tour for this book?
DAVIS: Not a major tour. No. Sort of selective things. You know, it's a difficult book to -- to talk about. It wasn't difficult to write. But it's a tender subject to talk about. I don't think it would be appropriate really to go, go do some kind of ten-city tour for a book like this. I think you sort of pick and choose. You know?
KING: Thank you so much.
DAVIS: Thank you.
KING: Patti Davis. The book, "The Long Goodbye."
KING: Before we go, a reminder to catch my good friend Don Rickles along with William H. Macy, Ned Beatty, and Catherine O'Hara in a TNT original movie, "The Wool Cap." It airs this Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern and 8:00 Pacific on TNT. "The Wool Cap" tells the story of a mute who has lost hope in life but finds it again through his friendship with a precocious 9-year-old orphan named Lou. It's based on the original Jackie Gleason story previously filmed in 1962. As you go don't forget "The Wool Cap" Sunday night 8:00 Eastern and Pacific on TNT. William Macy and Don Rickles.
And tomorrow night, Tony Bennett on LARRY KING LIVE and now, sitting in -- suddenly the screen looks better -- sitting in on "NEWSNIGHT" tonight for Aaron Brown is the lovely and talented and gold-laden Judy Woodruff. I like the look.
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