Book excerpt: Ann Romney: A mother first

By Josh Romney

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 19 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

My mom has always been athletic. Not only was she an accomplished equestrian but she also played tennis regularly and led a very active life. Facing an existence confined to a wheelchair was terrifying, and she prayed for guidance.

At this time, I was living in Provo and attending BYU. My father had put behind him his unsuccessful 1994 bid for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and had settled back in at Bain Capital, where things were going very well.

Mom had focused her efforts on battling MS with the assistance of some of the greatest physicians in the world and had no intentions of leaving Massachusetts when she received a call from her dear friend Kem Gardner, who was involved with Salt Lake City’s Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Games.

Knowing of my mom and dad’s relationship, Kem asked Mom to consider moving to Utah so Dad could take over the operation of the scandal-ridden Olympics. He knew my dad would not consider a proposal if it came directly from him, or anyone else for that matter. But he knew that if it were the right thing, only my mom could convince him to do it.

After hearing of the opportunity for the first time, both my parents were sure it was not meant to be. Mom’s medical concerns were still mostly unresolved. Leaving the comfort and safety of her support network was a daunting prospect.

However, she became convinced that moving to Utah was the right thing to do. My dad, however, was not so confident. As weeks passed, she never wavered in her belief that they should take on this challenge. Eventually, she convinced him. It was a huge personal risk for my mother and a career risk for my father, who would be leaving behind a successful business he had helped found to work on something that seemed hopeless at the time. In retrospect, that single inspired decision led to a successful Olympic Games, my father’s subsequent election as governor of Massachusetts and many other opportunities for each of them.

After the move, my mom struggled to adjust to my dad’s hectic schedule, her new home and the unfamiliar surroundings. I was still studying at BYU, so I was able to spend many wonderful visits with my mom as she contemplated her treatments and the new challenges she faced.

My mom’s open heart and mind resulted in her willingness to try some traditional and nontraditional therapies for her MS. She found value in receiving treatments from both Western and Eastern medicine, and miraculously, she is now nearly symptom free.

Her recovery was so incredible that she renewed her activity in equestrian competitions, and as an amateur, she won the 2006 gold medal and 2005 silver medal at the Grand Prix level from the United States Dressage Federation.

Although my father has many trusted advisers who are politically savvy and have many lifetimes worth of knowledge about politics and business, he relies on my mother for her wisdom, love and guidance. I’m proud to say that all the brothers feel the same way.

Taken from the book, "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith." Click here for more excerpts from "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith."

Related: The worth of a homemaker

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