Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When A Man Loves A Woman

I have been thinking about Ann Romney. I hate her politics. I hate the way she thinks about women, and poor people and I could go on... BUT - I think she is the missing, but all important, link to our understanding of Mitt Romney.  No debate question or answer shows us as clearly, as his treatment of his own wife,  how he feels toward women.
My grandma had MS. I see the strain of that kind of pain and distress on Ann's face regularly. I think of all the things my middle class family did to try to help my ailing grandma, when she was sick. I remember that when she died, there were scores of pairs of shoes in her closet and attic. Over the decades she had collected all kinds, in an effort to aid her in walking.

My grandfather, during the last years of her life, took off work early, every day, to be home with her for an early meal so that she could go to bed. He never once complained about the loss of pay or power. 
She was a tough lady, she didn't let life hold her back from the things she wanted to do. Before her illness got really bad, I remember her shooing moose and dear from her garden with a broom.  I also remember how Papa helped her with her love of arrowhead hunting, by pushing her wheelchair across the Red Desert. 
Even when Grandma could no longer talk, I remember her insistence, that the humming bird feeders be filled. She waved her good arm, and repeated that one word she could say - over and over... till Grandpa finally understood that they were empty.  I helped him mix his special ratio of sugar, water and red food coloring, then watched as he hung them in front of the window where she could see them. 

She never asked to hold him back.. but then, he never put her in the position where she had to.  He simply stayed with her.  She never asked him to take care of her, or work less hours, or give up anything.  I doubt anybody could have gotten her to do that.  Luckily, she never had to.  He just did it.  Without a word.  With love.
He wiped her colostomy bag. He used a special lift to dress her and put her in a chair or car or bed. He gave much of his extra income to nurses to keep her company while he worked. On his vacations, he called hotel managers weeks in advance, and asked them if they had beds that he could use Grandma's lift on. He found casinos with the handles on the slot machines positioned so she could reach them with her good hand. He convinced the local hair stylist to come to their home and fix her hair as often as she liked, because it was important to her.  In the early mornings, before he left for work, he'd check that her lipstick was straight, and that the elastic on her socks wasn't too tight.  That, is how you love a sick wife.
Mitt Romney's wife is ill too. It's a kind of illness that is difficult to see, but requires empathy and love and a life with minimal stress. It is not the kind of illness that would provoke a man who adores his wife to reasonably say, "Hey, honey, I know you don't feel great, but how do you feel about being First Lady?"
No, a rich man who has a wife with MS, he doesn't haul her to a white house.  He hauls her to a white beach. He pours her cool drinks. He bathes her forehead with wet cloths. He holds her shaking hands. He spends his money on the best medical care available, and he makes sure she doesn't suffer the stress of bright lights or public scrutiny. He makes her as comfortable and relaxed as he can, and prays for her comfort.
I am sorry, but in watching Ann's pained face at the second presidential debate, I felt nothing but empathy. She should have been home, in a cool bubble bath, with a loving husband ensuring she had a square meal. Instead, she was under hot lights on TV watching her husband selfishly (and fruitlessly) fight for power. She shouldn't have to ask for his care, and attention. Her husband should think of the priority of his devotion.  He should remember his the vows he has already taken, before he considers another oath.

This is not a matter of people who love their nation, selflessly sacrificing for it.  The Romneys have enough money to save our nation any number of other ways.  Imagine how many children could be fed, if they'd only pay a fair tax rate?  This is a matter of a power hungry man, who uses phrases like, "If we are going to have women working..." and suggests that single moms are sub-par while denying all women the right of reproductive freedom.
Y'all can clamor over comments about women in binders... but I saw a woman bound in that chair at that debate. Ann Romney says a whole lot to me. She says that even the woman Mitt claims to love the most isn't as important as the power of the presidency to Mitt Romney. If he won't help her, he won't do a damn thing for me... Or you.
If Romney can't love the most important woman in his life dutifully, he certainly won't care for the rest of America's women either.  I guess that makes the 51% of our nation, which happens to be female, just another group that Mr. Romney isn't concerned with in his quest for power.

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Carol Bahrami said...

Thoughtfully written Sarah. I will remind your readers of the Governor's absenteeism in MA during his last two years in office there. Just imagine the consequences the distraction of caring for her could cause in the White house. Not something many of us could grasp unless we has a reference into the kind of suffering MS can cause, like you have. Thank you for your insight and compassion here. It should give us all pause.

Carol Bahrami said...

'have a reference' ( sorry for they typo.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. This has bothered me ever since the secret tape was released -while everyone was focusing on the 47% statement, and rightly so, I found his other statement even more troubling. "We try not to use Ann too much, so people won't get tired of her." Given that she is ill, shouldn't that statement have been " so she doesn't get too tired?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Romney should have used a phrase other than "…not to USE Ann too much…" It's offensive that the campaign feels they USE her.

Thank you for writing this. I watched my step-dad slowly crumble under the weight of MS for years. Some days were good; many were bad. On the bad days, my mom tried to care for him.

One day, when my step-dad lost control of his car and crashed into a bunch of parked cars, my mom realized she could no longer shoulder that burden of care, so my step-dad went to live in a skilled nursing facility, where he lost his speech, vision, and all the zeal for life that he used to feel .

While I share little in common with Ann Romney - I am not wealthy; I support President Obama; I question her religion - I empathize with her illness. She likely tires easily and maybe even suffers double vision or tremors on occasion.

Ann Romney's husband is a self-centered egomaniac who evidently has no respect for his wife or any other women. I guess he feels that, as Ann's condition deteriorates, he can simply hire more help to tend to her needs.

Anonymous said...

I also have MS - and I agree 100%. I can't imagine going through a campaign, much less being First Lady when all you want to do at dinnertime (or any other time of day for that matter) is put your head in your plate. But then, she is also the one who said she had been doing great since she took up horseback riding. I've haven't had a neurologist yet who prescribed pure-bred horses as a therapy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for summing up Mr. Romney's actions soduccinctly.

Samantha in Texas said...

I have no experience with MS, so I had not looked at it from this perspective before. I did wonder if her absence from the campaign trail was illness-related, but was not sure to what extent. Thank you for addressing this!