Lord Moran, Churchill’s doctor, entitles his diary entries for 1959: The Dying Gladiator.
In early April, Sir Winston suffered an arterial blockage which temporarily cut off circulation to his speech center, but he recovered in time to make, although somewhat haltingly, a speech to his Woodford constituents. As he came off the platform, he said: “Now for America.”
Despite expressed reservations of his doctor and his family, Churchill boarded a BOAC Comet jet for the United States in early May. To Eisenhower’s official welcome he responded: “I am most happy once again to set foot in the United States—my mother’s country I always think of it and feel it. I have come here on a quiet visit to see some of my old comrades of wartime days Although President Eisenhower had fully recovered from his heart attack, other wartime colleagues were less fortunate. John Foster Dulles was dying of cancer and General George Marshall was totally paralyzed by a stroke. But both were comforted by Churchill’s visit.
The visit was dominated by numerous stag dinners both formal and informal, at the White House and the British Embassy. An even more rewarding, but no less exhausting, experience may have been the visit to Eisenhower’s farm at Gettysburg. On the way home WSC stopped at New York, where he was cared for by his friend, Bernard Baruch, and where he visited Sunny’s ex-wife, Consuelo. At his departure, he told the farewell crowd at the airport that he was returning to “Britain, my other country.”
Back home, exhaustion, a clot in the artery of his little finger, and depression created a dark mood and seemingly ceaseless sleep. But in late May, he celebrated Beaverbrook’s 80th birthday by offering his friend a choice of one of two of his paintings. At Beaverbrook’s annual dinner, the host succeeded in rousing Sir Winston from his black mood by offering to purchase all of his paintings because “when you’re gone they won’t be worth two shillings apiece.”