Friday, November 30, 2007

Uncle Jimmy

Those of you reading this who know me are quite aware of my allergic reaction to the news and political debate. My empathetic gifts make it very hard for me to watch or read the news without taking to bed (or drink) for days in depression and sadness. The limited capacity I have for wading through jargon to get to a political candidate’s actual platform causes me to rely on a few select, patient friends to help me make a voting decision.
One thing I do know, however, is that I love Jimmy Carter. Until today he was simply President Jimmy Carter, who:
  • was the 39th President in the years preceding my descent into the hell of middle school (’77-’81).
  • being a peanut farmer from Georgia, put the state we had moved from on the map for my Montana classmates.
  • was a champion for ecological issues, racial equality, and civil rights in addition to being a strong Baptist who witnessed to several world leaders while in office (oh, those traits aren’t mutually exclusive, hmmm?).
  • started The Carter Center in 1982.
  • joined forces with Habitat For Humanity in 1986.
  • Removed himself from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2002 when they changed their doctrine to something he thought was too rigid and disturbing. Can I get an ‘Amen’?
  • along with his wife, Rosalynn, continues to raise gazillions of dollars a year for civil rights all over the world.
Today he became Uncle Jimmy. My parents (two of the most intelligent, compassionate, generous people I know) give as much time and suppoort to charities as possible. For the past umpteen years, I want to say 15, they have been donating an annual sum to The Carter Center. Today, my mother got a phone call.

“Is this Maybelle Stone?” [*not real name, ahem]
“Yes it is.”
“Please hold for Jimmy Carter.”
“Maybelle? This is Jimmy Carter.”
(Without skipping a beat) “Why, President Carter, how nice to hear from you.”
“Maybelle, I just wanted to call and thank you and Homer* for your continuous contribution to The Carter Center. It’s made such a difference.”
“Well President Carter, you’re so welcome. We truly believe you are doing wonderful work and are so happy we can help in some way. Now we just have to get someone like you back in the White House!”
“We’re working on that…”
3-4 minutes of polite chat ensued, which culminated in him asking her to tell Dad he called and to have a wonderful Christmas. The personally autographed copy of Beyond The Whitehouse that had been in the mail the day before now made a lot more sense.
First of all, please understand that my mother is also from Georgia. So, if you had overheard this conversation, it would have sounded like two old friends catching up or someone from the church calling to thank for the donation of clothes for the bazaar that weekend.
Second, o.m.g. !!!!!!! My mother is the only person I know (besides my father) who would be able to have this conversation and say exactly what she wished to in a completely intelligent, gracious fashion without peeing herself.
What a brilliant thing. This is an amazing example of the combination of global and personal thinking this man has. No wonder he’s so successful getting things done. He was totally genuine, took time out of his day to personally connect with a consistent giver, and made her day. They sure ain’t gonna stop giving to that foundation any time soon.
My parents receive a lot of recognition from their various communities (and should). I’m really glad that she had that experience.
I’m so proud of them both. I’m trying hard to live up to their example.


  1. Belatedly telling you that this is my fave post of yours ever. That Maybelle. She's really something. xo L

  2. P.S. Note to everybody else with the last name of Stone: How funny is it that we have traded this post around a zillion times in email and nobody but me has commented on it? Sigh. A family of lurkers...