"I just completely broke down," a weeping Neil Reagan, the president's 72-year-old brother, said in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. "I was busted up, real bad..."
He wept again when told the president's final jocular words as he lay on the operating table, about to undergo surgery for the removal of a bullet lodged in his lung.
" 'I hope you're all Republicans,'" Neil Reagan repeated, "Isn't that just like him-to make a joke?"
But anger surfaced along with the tears.
"My reaction is fury and rage and frustration and anger, that in this country this kind of garbage still goes on. And it is not going to happen to this president," said Maureen Reagan, 40, the president's daughter.
"I think the American people have got to become angry about crime in this country, about the ability of people to do this to other human beings," she said. "And we've got to stop it right now. We need punishments that fit crimes and laws that have teeth in them and can be enforced through the courts."
Faith was part of the common thread linking members of the Reagan family as they digested the news of the assassination attempt and -- in the case of the Reagan children -- hurriedly flew to Washington.
"The Lord's flown over us so many times in the last 50 or 60 years," Neil said. "I'm sure he's going to be all right...God watches over the last two Irishmen in the Reagan family."
Three of the children -- Michael, Maureen and Patti Davis -- boarded an Air Force C-141 aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport last night and flew to Washington to be at their father's bedside when he woke this morning.