Pondering the First Lady of Service…

This is a change of pace for TC as the recent passing of Rosalynn Carter triggers heartfelt commentary. Read on (and keep the Kleenex close)! – the editor

Ever since the passing of my parents, Skip and Jerry, I have been known to take a pause when one of my friends lose a parent or sibling. When I wish condolences and thoughts, I have welcomed them to a club no one wants to be a member of.

It is a brotherhood (or sisterhood ) of understanding and empathy for the pain and grief of loss. A form of support to those mourning and going through what I called “ the firsts.”

  • First Thanksgiving
  • First Christmas
  • First Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day
  • First Birthdays and anniversaries

We reflect in different ways…

The “how” for these “whats” (firsts) happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s a picture posted on Facebook and/or a wreath or grave blanket placed at cemetery. Some opt for an on-going Irish Wake. And anyone following me on Facebook has seen pictures of my stroll through my mother’s favorite supermarket with her picture in the cart keeping me company.

I don’t see myself as a funeral junkie. I feel like I need to let families have the privacy to grieve. When I went to my Aunt Doris’ service in Bennington, Vermont, I looked at my father crying, then I needed to turn away to give him his privacy, and to let him see me noticing.

I got blessed to be asked to give the eulogy at my Mother’s service in 2019. I was lucky to have a few weeks after her death to collect my thoughts. I was following up my brother James, who did the eulogy for my Father two years earlier. He had less time to prepare.

During my eulogy prep, I recalled the one my cousin Suzanne did for her father (my father’s cousin). I was inspired by her “mother noises,” her greatest loves, and the realization that grieving was not a contest. My siblings and I grieve in different ways, an as much as I am curious to see how, like with my father, I want to make sure that I give them their privacy.

Leading to…

So with that being said, why was I balling during the memorial service for the late First Lady Rosalynn Carter? Maybe I am a sucker for a good celebration of life. And “Life” is what Rosalynn Carter lived. A long 96 years. 77 years married to President Jimmy Carter.
This couple set the standard for public service.

If you suffered from mental illness, were a caretaker, in need of a house built, or if you were a monarch butterfly, you were all part of the life and actions Rosalynn dedicated her life to, outside of undying support of her family.

Her son and grandson spoke. Amy Carter read a love letter from President Carter sent during his service. Beautiful music was sung, from the choir and from Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, performing John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

My mom spent most of her life in love with my dad. Their partnership and love story was a defining feature of her life. Because he isn’t able to speak to you today, I am going to share some of his words about loving and missing her.

Kleenex anyone?

Final words at my mother’s service, I notated “a good cast is worth repeating” — which was acknowledging all the caretakers and siblings who “manned the fort” while we were away. At the service I just viewed, it was the Reverend who gave a shout out to the members of Secret Service assigned to protect Rosalynn —and got her home safely for 46 years.

Yup. Waterworks. For Rosalynn, fully deserved.

And on a Lighter Note…

Cry a little… Laugh a little, right?

So on a lighter note, while waiting for the service to start on TV, I searched YouTube for a clip from the show “Designing Women”.

Julia Sugarbaker had dinner planned with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter that coincided with her call to Jury Duty. Charlene in the office thought it was her civic duty to snitch to the Judge not only she was trying to avoid service, but they discussed the case she was on in the office and it caused her to be sequestered until the trial ended.

At the end of her jury service, missing the dinner, Julia returned to the office with a bouquet of flowers on her desk. It was a note from Jimmy and Rosalynn understanding the importance of public service and inviting her to a last- minute coffee that night.

Even if this was fiction, I am sure Jimmy and Rosalynn would have still invited her.

That’s a Wrap!

As my editor would say… “pencils down!”

Thanks for reading! (and pondering with me)! -TC


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