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From the PorchBy Amber Nagle
From the PorchBy Amber Nagle

“My grandmother doesn’t need a eulogy, her life was a sermon.”

— Jason Carter

I knew it was coming, but still, when I heard of the passing of former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, a lump developed in my throat that wouldn’t go away for two hours. She was 96.

Those closest to me know that I’ve always held the Carters close in my heart. I admire them not for their politics, but because they’ve used their lives for good. Who we saw, from the outside looking in, is exactly who Jimmy and Rosalynn were throughout their lives — kind, decent people who loved the world so fiercely that they devoted themselves to making it better for everyone on the planet.

I’m chairman of the board of a small Habitat for Humanity affiliate in my own community. I believe in the organization’s mission — to build safe, affordable homes for the people of the world. The Carters believed in the mission, too, and the Internet is full of photos of Jimmy and Rosalynn — with hard hats balanced upon their heads — working on homes together, across the globe. When she was younger, Rosalynn could swing a hammer with the best of them. Even a few years ago, video footage emerged of her carefully painting molding for a Habitat house. I think she was in her late eighties at the time.

She was Jimmy’s partner in every way for 77 glorious years, and as a couple, they raised four children, went to live in the White House, then moved back to Plains and mapped out the rest of their lives. The former president released a statement shortly after she died saying, “As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.” Their relationship was a love affair for the ages, and they were often caught on the “kiss cams” of Atlantaarea sporting events. We watched them kiss on the Jumbotron at the Braves game, and we cheered because that kind of bond and love is seldom seen in this day and age. We were in awe of them — and their enduring love. On her own, Rosalynn was a powerful advocate for women’s rights, child immunization programs, disease eradication, and democracy. She was also an early advocate for mental health services and fought to end the stigma of mental illness and the shame associated with seeking treatment for mental health issues.

When she learned about the diminishing monarch butterfly population, she worked to build a butterfly habitat in Plains — a small but important gesture born out of her concern for the tiny, fluttering crea- continued from page

tures. Time and time again, she cared for “the least of these” of our world.

She also played the role of loving mom and grandmother to her family. I watched her memorial online and smiled when her grandson, Jason, got up and talked about how down to earth she was, and how she was like other grandmothers in so many ways.

“Almost all of her recipes call for mayonnaise, for example,” he said. “We all got cards from her on our birthdays with a $20 bill in it.”

The mourners gathered in the church laughed.

“We were on a family trip, and we were on a flight — on Delta, from here to somewhere — and we were all sitting in the back of the airplane together,” Jason recounted. “The plane took off and we looked over, and my grandmother took out this Tupperware of pimiento cheese and this loaf of bread, and she just started making sandwiches. She gave them to all of us grandkids, and then she started giving them to other people on the plane. And people were just sitting there like, ‘Rosalynn Carter just made me this sandwich!’ You know? They couldn’t believe it.”

Jason Carter’s story says it all — how she loved people, and how she knew that through love and small acts of kindness, she could make her mark on her family, and on the world.

And that’s exactly what she did. Rosalynn Carter made a profound impact as a first lady, a mother, a grandmother, and a human being, and she did it with grace and a smile on her face. Her work is done now. May she rest in heavenly peace.

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