NORCROSS, Ga. (AP) — Three months after beginning end-of-life care at home, former President Jimmy Carter remains in good spirits as he visits family, follows the public debate about his legacy and receives updates on The Carter Center’s humanitarian work around the world, says his grandson. He even relishes regular servings of ice cream.
“They’re just meeting their family right now, but they’re doing it in the best way possible: both together at home,” Jason Carter said of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, now 98 and 95 years old.
They have been together for over 70 years. They also know they are not responsible,” the younger Carter said Tuesday in a brief interview. “Their faith is really anchored right now. That way it’s as good as it gets.
The longest-lived US president, Jimmy Carter, announced in February that after a series of brief hospital stays, he would forego further medical procedures and spend the rest of his life in the same modest one-story house in Plains where they lived when he was elected for the first time in the State Senate in 1962. No illness was disclosed.
The hospice announcement drew continued tributes and media attention to his presidency from 1977 to 1981 and the worldwide humanitarian work the couple have done since co-founding The Carter Center in 1982.
“It’s been one of the blessings of the past two months,” Jason Carter said after speaking at an event honoring his grandfather on Tuesday. “He’s definitely starting to see the outpouring and it’s certainly gratified him.”
Former president also receives updates on Guinea worm eradication from The Carter Center program, started in the mid-1980s when millions of people were suffering from the parasite spread by unsafe drinking water. Last year, there were less than two dozen cases worldwide.
And in less serious times, he also continues to enjoy peanut butter ice cream, his favorite flavor, in keeping with his political trademark as a peanut farmer, his grandson said.
Andrew Young, who served as Carter’s ambassador to the UN, told the AP that he too visited the Carters “a few weeks ago” and was “very happy that we could laugh and joking about the good old days”.
Young and Jason Carter joined other friends and admirers Tuesday at a celebration for the former president along Jimmy Carter Boulevard in the suburb of Norcross, just northeast of Atlanta. Young said the setting — in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse suburbs in America — reflected the former president’s broader heritage as someone who sought peace, conflict resolution and racial equity.
When the nearly 10-mile stretch of freeway in Gwinnett County was renamed in 1976 — the year he was elected president — small towns and bedroom communities on the outskirts of metropolitan Atlanta were beginning only to thrive. Today, Gwinnett alone has a population of about 1 million, and Jimmy Carter Boulevard is booming, with many businesses owned by black, immigrant, or first-generation American owners.
Young, a top aide to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement, said Carter started out as a white politician from southern Georgia during the Jim Crow segregation era, but he proved that his values were different.
As governor and president, Carter believed “the world can come to Georgia and show everybody how to live together,” Young said.
Now Georgia “feels like the whole world,” Young, 91, said.
Nicole Love Hendrickson, elected in 2020 as the first black chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, praised Carter as “a man with exceptional respect for the humanity of others.”
Alluding to Carter’s crushing re-election defeat, Young said he personally enjoyed seeing historians and others find success stories as they reassess Carter’s presidency – ceding control of the channel to Panama, developing a national energy strategy, engaging more in Africa than any US president. . Such achievements were either unpopular at the time or overshadowed by Carter’s failure to rein in inflation, tame energy crises, or free American hostages in Iran before the 1980 election.
“I said to him, ‘You know, it took them over 50 years to appreciate President Lincoln. It can take that long to appreciate you,'” Young said.
“No one thought of the Panama Canal. No one would have thought of bringing Egypt and Israel together. I mean, I was thinking of trying to do something in Africa, but nobody else in Washington was, and he did. He always had an idea about everything.
Yet when Jason Carter addressed his grandparents’ admirers on Tuesday, he took issue with their being considered world celebrities.
“They’re like all your grandparents — I mean, in that your grandparents are rednecks from South Georgia,” he laughed. “If you go there again today, next to their sink they have a little rack where they dry Ziplock bags.”
Most notable, Jason Carter said, is the fact that such a gathering happened while his grandfather was still alive.
“We thought when he went to hospice it was very close to the end,” he told attendees. “Now I’m just going to tell you he’s going to be 99 in October.”