The following are the remarks as prepared for delivery by Ted and Pat Oparowski. The actual remarks may differ.
Ted and Pat Oparowski
(Remarks as Prepared for Delivery)
August 30, 2012
Good evening, folks.
My wife and I are people of modest means. I made my living as a professional firefighter for 27 years.
Prior to moving to Randolph, Vermont, we lived in Medford, Massachusetts. It was there where we met Mitt Romney and his family.
It has been over 30 years since we lost our son, David. The memories are still vivid and painful. But we wanted to share them with you because David’s story is part of Mitt’s story.
And America deserves to hear it.
Back in the early 1970s, Mitt visited our home numerous times with his oldest son, Tagg, tagging along. He was in the vanguard of our support system when we received the news that no parent is prepared to confront.
You cannot measure a man’s character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times. The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble. The quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters – that is the time to make an assessment.
In 1979, tragedy struck our family when our youngest son, David, age 14, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Over a period of seven months, he was in and out of Children’s Hospital in Boston for treatment. Throughout that agonizing period, Mitt took time from his busy schedule to visit David. They developed a loving friendship.
On one of his visits, Mitt discovered that David was very fond of fireworks. He went out and bought a box full of “BIG TIME” fireworks that had to sit on the closet shelf because they couldn’t be set off in the city. We waited until we were able to go to Ogunquit, Maine, where we set them off on the sand dunes – with permission from the fire and police departments.
Through that simple but thoughtful gift, Mitt brought joy to a young boy who hadn’t experienced any for too long. He also gave the rest of us a welcome release.
On another visit, David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prized possessions he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family.
The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind.
So, after David’s death, we were able to give his skate board, his model rockets, and his fishing gear to his best friends. He also made it clear that his brother, Peter, should get his Ruger 22 rifle.
How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?
David also helped us plan his funeral. He wanted to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform. He wanted Mitt to pronounce his eulogy. Mitt was there to honor that request. We will be ever grateful to Mitt for his love and concern.