The former president wrote of his enduring love for his wife of several decades in a recently resurfaced 1995 poem titled "Rosalynn"
"She'd smile, and birds would feel that they no longer had to sing, or it may be I failed to hear their song," Jimmy began the poem, which was featured in his 1995 book, Always a Reckoning.
The ode to his wife continued by painting a portrait of a younger, shyer Rosalynn, whom he began to develop feelings for. It alludes to him admiring her from afar but being met with aloofness, until she one day chose to be with him (the couple wed in 1946, and would go on to have the longest marriage of any first couple).
Jimmy concludes the poem, first published when Rosalynn was in her late 60s, by writing, "With shyness gone and hair caressed with gray, her smile still makes the birds forget to sing and me to hear their song."
Read Rosalynn, a beautiful poem written by President Carter in 1995. pic.twitter.com/OKi59HpItO
— The Carter Center (@CarterCenter) November 28, 2023
The Carters' decades of partnership began when Jimmy was attending the U.S. Naval Academy, though they technically met much earlier when a 3-year-old Jimmy visited newborn Rosalynn in the hospital, as their parents were friends.
Wed in 1946, Rosalynn and Jimmy shared sons John William "Jack," James Earl "Chip," Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff" and daughter Amy Carter — plus 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The couple always leaned on one another during challenging times, with DuBose Porter, the Carters' longtime friend and political ally, once telling PEOPLE, "sometimes it's difficult to know where one ends and the other begins."
The former first lady was diagnosed with dementia in May, and entered hospice care just two days before her death. Jimmy terminated medical intervention in February amid his own health challenges and has been in hospice care since.
On Tuesday, President Carter, now 99, appeared at an invitation-only tribute service for his late wife, held at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the campus of Emory University.
President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, and every living U.S. first lady — including Dr. Jill Biden, Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush — also attended Tuesday's tribute service.
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