Jimmy Carter has always loomed large in my life. First of all, we’re both from Georgia. And, when I was just a little goober, I was a page in the Ga. Senate when Mr. Carter was Governor and he hugged me and we took our picture together.
That’s me on the left, Jimmy in the middle, and my friend Becky on the right. Becky’s father was the photographer, and the real reason we were there in the first place. Thank you, Becky’s Dad!
I love the portrait of Rosalynn and Amy on the wall! You can click on the image to make it a little larger so you can admire the painting, if you’d like.
Anyway, back to the present – or at least January 26, 2009. That’s when President Carter was in New York City on a book-signing tour. I went straight from work to buy the book and get his autograph. Now, I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking. Maybe I was thinking that we’d line up inside the store. Or, maybe I just wasn’t really thinking.
I just had a medium winter’s jacket on. No heavy coat, no gloves, no scarf, no hat. Turns out that we lined up OUTSIDE of the store that evening. I think the low was about 24º that evening. And we were standing outside for a couple of hours. Needless to say, I became chilled to the bone pretty quickly!
Despite the cold, the folks around me were very friendly, and we all commiserated with one another. As I listened to the young lady 2-people in front of me talk about how she admired President Carter, I began to think – “That sounds a lot like Renee Zellweger!” After a few minutes, I thought – “That IS Renee Zellweger!”
And, it was! There she was, standing in line with the rest of us schmegeggies – no entourage, no driver – just her. Talking with us in a low, quiet voice. She seemed very sweet and genuine. She stamped her tiny feet in the cold, braving the weather and the 2-hour line with the rest of us.
Finally, we rounded the corner and were on 5th Avenue. Renee asked if we would mind holding her place in line, and she slipped into a nearby store. She was out again in a few moments – tying a scarf around her neck which she had just purchased. Then she handed a newly-purchased scarf to the gentleman directly behind her in the line, and another one to me!
My heart was so warmed by her generosity and thoughtfulness, it made my whole body toasty! What a Lady.
We finally got into the book store and through security. I was able to ask her if I could repay her for the scarf, and she refused to accept any money. Then we separated and I was able to get this quick shot of the back of her head:
I kind of wish that I had been forward enough to ask to take a picture of the front of her head, but after she was so kind and genuine and sweet and giving, and “one of us”, I certainly didn’t want to come across as a fanboy.
Finally it was my turn to step in front of President Carter. While he was signing my book, I showed him the picture of us together, and asked him if he would mind signing it. He replied “Well, you know the Secret Service won’t let me” as he smiled and signed it for me. (You can see his signature across Becky’s legs!)
Oh, what a night! I think I floated home!
And, The Humanitarian Award? Who wins it? It should definitely be a tie. Renee and Jimmy are equal saints in my eyes!