Three months in the hospice, Jimmy Carter appreciates the tributes and the ice cream.


NORCROSS, Ga. — Three months after entering end-of-life care at home, former President Jimmy Carter stays in high spirits as he visits his family, follows the public discussion of his legacy and receives updates on the Carter Center’s humanitarian work Worldwide. says his granddaughter. He even enjoys regular servings of ice cream.

“Right now they’re just getting together with family, but they’re doing it in the best way possible — the two of them together at home,” Jason Carter said of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, now 98 and 95.

“They have been together over 70 years. They also know they’re not in charge,” the younger Carter said Tuesday in a brief interview. “His faith is really taking root right now. In that way, it’s as good as it can be.”

The longest-serving US president, Jimmy Carter announced in february that after a series of brief hospital stays, he would forego further medical interventions and spend the rest of his life in the same modest one-story house in Plains where they lived when he was first elected to the state Senate in 1962. disease was revealed.

ongoing tributes

The hospice care announcement sparked ongoing tributes and media attention to his 1977-81 presidency and the global humanitarian work the couple have done since co-founding The Carter Center in 1982.

“That’s been one of the blessings of the last few months,” Jason Carter said after speaking Tuesday at an event honoring his grandfather. “He’s certainly seeing the outpouring and it sure has been rewarding for him.”

The former president also gets updates on the Carter Center guinea worm eradication program, launched in the mid-1980s when millions of people suffered from the parasite spread by dirty drinking water. Last year, there were fewer than two dozen cases worldwide.

And in less serious moments, he also continues to enjoy peanut butter ice cream, his favorite flavor, in keeping with his political brand as a peanut farmer, his grandson said.

Carter’s legacy

Andrew Young, who served as Carter’s UN ambassador, told the AP that he, too, visited the Carters “a few weeks ago” and was “very pleased that we were able to laugh and joke about the old days.”

Young and Jason Carter joined other friends and fans Tuesday at a celebration of the former president on Jimmy Carter Boulevard in suburban Norcross, northeast of Atlanta. Young said the setting, in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse suburban areas in the United States, reflected the former president’s broader legacy as a seeker of peace, conflict resolution and racial equity.

When the nearly 10-mile stretch of highway in Gwinnett County was renamed in 1976, the year he was elected president, small towns and bedroom communities on the outskirts of metro Atlanta were just beginning to flourish. Now, Gwinnett alone has a population of about 1 million people, and Jimmy Carter Boulevard is thriving, with many businesses owned by black, immigrant, or first-generation American owners.

Young, one of the top advisers to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement, said Carter started out as a white politician from South Georgia in the days of Jim Crow segregation but proved his values ​​were different.

As governor and president, Carter believed that “the world can come to Georgia and show everyone how to live together,” Young said.

Now, Georgia “looks like the whole world,” said Young, 91.

Nicole Love Hendrickson, elected in 2020 as the first black president of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, praised Carter as “a man with exceptional consideration for the humanity of others.”

reassessing the past

Alluding to Carter’s landslide re-election defeat, Young said he personally has enjoyed watching historians and others find success stories reassessing the Carter presidency: ceding control of the Panama Canal, developing a national energy strategy, becoming more involved in Africa than any other US president. Such achievements were either unpopular at the time or overshadowed by Carter’s failure to control inflation, control energy crises, or release American hostages in Iran before the 1980 election.

“I told him, ‘You know, it took them over 50 years to appreciate President Lincoln. It can take so long to appreciate you,’” Young said.

“Nobody was thinking about the Panama Canal. No one would have thought of uniting Egypt and Israel. I mean, he was thinking about trying to do something in Africa, but nobody else in Washington was, and he did it. He has always had an idea about everything.”

Still, when Jason Carter addressed his grandparents’ fans on Tuesday, he argued against thinking of them as global celebrities.

“They’re like all of your grandparents, I mean, to the extent that your grandparents are rednecks from South Georgia,” he said with a laugh. “If you go there even 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 meeting occurred with his grandfather still alive.

“We thought that when he entered the hospice it was very close to the end,” he told attendees. “Now, I’ll just tell you that he will be 99 years old in October.”

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