Ann Romney is, by all accounts, a lovely, gracious and good-hearted woman. Since friends of mine are friends of hers, I am encouraged in the knowledge that Mitt Romney, should he become President, would have the support, the guidance, the strength and the unconditional love that comes from a phenomenal wife like Ann.
A piece in the National Review explains Ann Romney’s battle with multiple sclerosis. If you are only a casual observer of politics, you might not even know that she suffers from MS. She has managed to control the disease relatively well, and never draws attention to it. But it’s an important part of her story, and of the family story. And through this story we learn something about the character of Mitt Romney as well.
The following describes when Ann received the diagnosis and found her health rapidly deteriorating:
When the specialist delivered the diagnosis, Romney had little opportunity to process how her life had changed. Her condition was rapidly deteriorating. For years, she and several friends had worked out with a personal trainer. One day, when it was time for a workout, the once-athletic Romney couldn’t find the strength to climb out of bed.
The personal trainer entered the bedroom where Romney was resting. “I remember her coming and literally climbing in my bed, and just moving my limbs, and I was just sitting there, just crying,” Romney says. She recalls thinking, “I can’t believe this — a month ago, I was working out, and I was fit.” Almost overnight, her physical strength had vanished.
Romney was horrified by how fast the disease was moving and her inability to halt it. “Where is this going to end, and how is this going to end?” she wondered. She viewed MS as a “monster” — it refused “to spit me out,” she says.
A friend sent me the link to this story because stories like these, he explained, are moving him from a reluctant voter for Mitt Romney into a firm supporter. Not because Ann suffers from MS, of course. But because of the simple goodness in Mitt’s response. The National Review story goes on:
Treatment succeeded in reversing some of the numbness, but there was no instant miracle, and Romney’s personal life continued to unravel. Mitt Romney took over the laundry and cooking. (Asked what kind of cook he was, sons Tagg and Josh Romney say that Mitt Romney’s go-to meals are spaghetti, and pancakes with bacon.) “He made me feel really good about the things that I couldn’t do anymore,” Romney says of her husband. “I wasn’t able to go to the grocery store. I couldn’t cook dinners. I couldn’t do anything. And he just rolled right with it and just started doing everything.”
He also provided crucial emotional support. “His reaction was that we can deal with anything,” Romney remembers. “Together. We’re together. We’re okay, we can fight this, we can deal with anything.”
Mitt Romney learned more than how to manage a household during those difficult days that his wife was battling MS. “My dad likes to fix things,” observes Tagg Romney, the Romneys’ eldest son. But Ann Romney’s MS, Tagg continues, was a situation where there was “nothing he could fix.”
After Mitt was tapped to rescue the Salt Lake City Olympics, they moved to Utah and Mitt kept up the family duties. He “juggled the household chores and running the Olympics. On his drive home, he would sometimes stop at Albertson’s, a grocery store in Park City, to pick up dinner.”
People ask me why I support Mitt Romney. It essentially boils down to the extremely rare combination of extraordinary competence and extraordinary character. Yes, I know, this is a family story shared in the midst of a campaign, but I’ve heard too many stories like these over the past nine years or so from friends of the Romneys — and even from detractors — to doubt that they point to the truth. Many wealthy and successful men would have said that their time is too valuable for these kinds of tasks. It makes no sense for them to spend hours on household chores when they could make thousands of dollars an hour and pay someone ten bucks an hour to do it for them. Such men — not evil men at all — would join their wives for doctor’s visits and moral support but would not take up the household chores when they could afford to pay others instead.
Stories like these matter, because this is not a game and it’s not a movie. These are very real people who have to confront the very real problems facing our nation. Mitt’s political philosophy matters, his positions matter, to be sure. But you have to trust the person — and I trust the character of Mitt Romney, in part because I see what a great father and husband he has been. If you cannot be faithful with little, you will not be faithful with much.
So what kind of man is Mitt Romney? The kind of man who, though a great leader in businesses and board rooms, humbled himself and served his wife in simple ways when she was ill. The kind of men who could have paid others to do everything, but who thought it better to do the grocery shopping and wash the laundry and cook the meals himself. Mitt’s love for Ann shines through. This is a great scene, and worthy of a First Family:
Mitt Romney nominated his wife — without telling her — to carry the Olympic torch, citing her as his personal hero. It would be an arduous task for her: Those who carry the Olympic torch run for a quarter-mile before relaying the torch to the next person. For weeks beforehand, Romney practiced, building up her strength.“She was able to jog the whole thing,” remembers Josh Romney, who was there with her, running alongside his mom.
“I literally ran,” Romney says, describing how she carried the torch, with friends and some of her sons present. “My kids were all surrounding me,” she says. “And they were all crying because they knew what a miracle it was that I came [to Utah] barely able to walk and now [here] I was, three years later, torch in hand, the Olympics were a success, I was back on track, I was regaining my strength, and off I ran with this torch into the city.”