Her story got tears flowing at the Republican National Convention, and may well have gone a long way toward showing Mitt Romney didn’t simply start doing good deeds when cameras were clicking and a political career was in the works.
Pam Finlayson addressed the Tampa crown late Thursday to tell how the Republican presidential nominee welcomed her family to his Mormon church when she moved to Massachusetts in the early 1980s, and became a lifelong friend in times of joy and tragedy.
“I knew Mitt was special from the start,” Finlayson told the crowd, first recounting how the then-thirty-something Romney called on her after her family moved in from California, helping her fold laundry as he welcomed her to the Boston area.
Later, when Finlayson and her husband Grant had a baby girl born dangerously premature, the man who decades later would stand at the threshold of the presidency was a steady and supportive presence at the hospital.
“Kate was so tiny and very sick,” Finlayson recalled. “Her lungs not yet ready to breathe, her heart unstable, and after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage at three days old, she was teetering on the very edge of life.
“As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me,” she continued, as the partisan crowd listened in rapt silence. “I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.
“I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.”
The little girl was slated for surgery around Thanksgiving, and Finlayson recalled Romney and his sons showing up with a Thanksgiving feast for the preoccupied parents. Finlayson said she later learned from Ann Romney that the food had been prepared by her husband.
Kate Finlayson survived, and the two families remained close, said Finlayson, who even babysat for the five “rambunctious” Romney sons before the family moved from Boston.
Last year, Kate Finlayson died at age 26 from complications she’d battled from birth, her mom said. And although Romney was in the midst of preparing his bid for the presidency, they remembered their old friends in yet another hour of anguish.
“When they heard of Kate’s passing, both Mitt and Ann paused, to personally reach out to extend us sympathy, and express their love,” Finlayson said.
“When the world looks at Mitt Romney, they see him as the founder of a successful business, the leader of the Olympics, or a governor,” she said. “When I see Mitt, I know him to be a loving father, man of faith and caring and compassionate friend.”