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The Rosalynn Carter Interview (Page 2 of 4)

An Interview with Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn Carter:  Another reason it appealed to me so much, Iíve been a caregiver for a good part of my life. My father died when I was thirteen and I am the oldest of four children, so I helped my mother. One of my main responsibilities was to help her with the smaller children, but I also helped her with my father. The following year, her mother died and my mother was the only child, so my grandfather came to live with us; he was 70 and lived to be 95. I helped with him as well. After I married and after Jimmy got out of the Navy, I moved away for a while. My grandfather lived a long time after I returned home, so I continued to help her with him. She worked at the post office and the postmaster gave her hours in the morning and in the afternoon so that she could go home for lunch and take care of him. But I helped with him when she needed to go to work. Also, since weíve come home from the White House, all of Jimmyís family members have died from cancer ... his mother, his brother, and his two sisters ... his whole immediate family. Iíve watched that process, too, so I have the personal experience that makes me value the caregivers.

Gary Barg:  And so many times, when youíre the caregiver of record for the family, it seems like it is a continual process, with you taking care of the next person who needs help and the next person who needs help, and so on.

Rosalynn Carter:  Thatís right. What weíve learned at the Rosalynn Carter Institute is if you donít learnto care for yourself, then youíre not going to be able to be the best caregiver that you can be for the one who is ill. That was the book I wrote, Helping Yourself Help Others.

Gary Barg:  Thatís a great book. I have to admit that as a speaker, I frequently use the quote, and I properly attribute it, ďThere are only four kinds of people in the world...those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers ... and those who will need caregivers.Ē Each time, it truly resonates with the audience. Iíve also seen this quote in print many times. How did that phrase come about, and did you know that it would have such an impact?

Rosalynn Carter:  No, I didnít. When I began working with the university, which was a public college back then, the man who was the head of the institute was also the head of the psychology department. He was a psychologist and had cared for his mother and father for a long time by himself. I donít even think they lived in the same community with him, but he really had a tough time trying to do what he was doing and also care for his mother and father. He was the one who actually gave me that quote.

Gary Barg: That is great. Anything that will get people talking and sharing the best practices around the country with one another.


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