Finding a soulmate you will get to spend your life with is a privilege denied to many, so if you do meet that one person who makes your heart skip a beat don’t let them go.
For former president Jimmy Carter, that special person was his wife of many years, Rosalynn. Their love story resembled a fairy tale.
Sadly, Rosalynn passed away at the age of 96 following a battle with dementia, the Carter Center reported.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” former president Jimmy Carter said in the statement. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”
Two years ago, Jimmy Carter and his loving wife Rosalynn celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary and held the title of the longest-married presidential couple.
The Carters tied the knot on July 7, 1946, in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, where they celebrated the special milestone.
Rosalynn’s family lived next to Jimmy’s and she was a very good friend with his sister. She remembered that Jimmy’s sister had a photo of him on the wall and she fell in love with that photo showing young Jimmy wearing his uniform.
“I didn’t know a single boy I thought I’d want to spend my life with until Jimmy Carter came calling,” Rosalynn explained.
When Jimmy returned to Plains on a break from the Naval Academy, his then-girlfriend was away at a family reunion, so he missed the opportunity to see her.
“I was cruising around with my sister, Ruth, and her boyfriend, just looking for a date, and I picked up Rosalynn in front of the Methodist church,” Jimmy recalled in What Makes a Marriage Last. When he laid eyes on Rosalynn, he immediately knew she was the one.
“I just felt compatible with her. She was beautiful and innocent, and there was a resonance. We rode in the rumble seat of a Ford pickup – Ruth and her boyfriend in the front – and I kissed her on that first date. I remember that vividly.”
“The moon was full in the sky, conversation came easy, and I was in love,” Rosalynn wrote in her memoir First Lady from Plains about their first date.
They started dating but didn’t marry until she turned 18 because she made a promise to her dying father that she won’t marry before finishing school.
During the first years of marriage, the couple constantly moved places because Jimmy was often deployed at different locations. However, Rosalynn didn’t mind that. In fact, she loved being on the move with him and when he made the decision to give up his career in the Navy, she wasn’t glad. “I had been self-sufficient and independent from my mother and Jimmy’s mother,” she told The New York Times.
In the next six years, the couple welcomed three children.
Jack was born in 1947, Chip in 1950, and Jefferey in 1952. Later, in 1967, they welcomed their fourth child and only daughter, Amy Lynn.
Speaking of their long-lasting marriage, it seemed there was a secret behind it which the two shared with the world.
“She’s just as strong, if not stronger than I am. She’s fully equal to me in every way in our relationship, in making business decisions, and she makes most of the decisions about family affairs. And I think it was a struggle for her to achieve this degree of independence and equality in our personal relationship. So, to summarize, years ago, we had a lot of quarrels—none serious, particularly—but now we don’t.”
Being married for so many years must be a challenge, but the Carters did’t see it that way. They had always been by each other’s side; during presidency and while he battled cancer. Revealing the secret to a long and happy marriage, both Rosalynn and Jimmy said that they had never went to bed angry at one another and knew how to enjoy the simple things that many take for granted, like cherishing each other’s company.
“We have grown closer to each other. We’ve learned from each other. And we have learned to accommodate each other’s idiosyncrasies,” Jimmy Carter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And we’ve learned how to give each other plenty of space. We can each do our own thing and the other one absent.”
Rosalynn also spoke of her husband with fondness.
“Jimmy is really kind and he will hold out his hand, take my hand when we are walking down the street or sitting in the car. Squeeze my hand. Those kinds of things draw me closer to him,” the former first lady revealed.
“I think our partnership started before (his presidency) when I was keeping books at our farm supply business. It was not too long before I got to know more about the business on paper than he knew about it and I could advise him. For instance, once we started doing peanuts and cotton and we started shelling corn, I realized from the books that we were not making any money. That we were losing money. I could advise him,” Rosalynn Carter added. “So that is how I think our partnership developed. That was the beginning of it.”
The two shared a lot of interests together, like bird watching and helping the community through the organization Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for people in need.
They also gave each other the space to do the things that fulfill them. “Jimmy and I are always looking for things to do together.” Rosalynn told CBS42. “Each [person] should have some space. That’s really important.”
“We’ve had a kind of policy on which we’ve agreed,” Carter explained during a 2019 press conference. “We give each other plenty of space to do our own things. And we try to find things we like to do together, and we try to concentrate on them. We took up downhill skiing when I was 62 years old. She was 59. We’ve taken up bird-watching and playing tennis and fly-fishing. So we’ve got a lot of common things we do together.
“We try to forgive each other every night for any differences we may have had during the day. We try to read the Bible every day. Most of the time late in the evening,” Jimmy Carter said. “And we try to reconcile and never go to sleep with any lingering argument.”
Both Rosalynn and Jimmy knew that with years, their feelings and love for one another only grew bigger. The only time they remember they got into a fight was when they wrote a book together.
“I know for my sake,” Jimmy said, “it’s been the best thing I’ve ever had happen to me — marrying Rosalynn and living together for so long, growing to know each other more and more intimately every day in married life.
“I’ve been very happy,” he said. “and I love her more now than I did to begin with — which is saying a lot, because I loved her a lot.”
Recently, The Carter Center released a statement that left many devastated. After a few hospital visits, former President Carter has been admitted to hospice.
“After a series of short hospital stays, former US President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention. He has the full support of his family and his medical team.”
Over the years, he has dealt with several serious health issues, including brain cancer. In 2019, he underwent brain surgery to remove mounting pressure.
Now that Rosalynn passed away, president Carter is heartbroken.
Her son, Chip Carter, said of his mother, “Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right. Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.”
Rest in peace, Rosalynn Carter.
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Love and Peace