Jimmy Carter makes rare appearance at wife’s memorial service with nod to their relationship on his lap

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Former President Jimmy Carter sat beside current and former political figures as they all honored his wife, Rosalynn Carter.

On Nov. 28, the 99-year-old arrived at the ceremony with a blanket draped over his legs that featured a stitched photo of him and his late wife.

“The Carters” was stitched into the blanket as well as Plains, Georgia, where they both were born and lived together until her death on Nov. 19 at the age of 96.

Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives for a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 28, 2023. Carter died on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains. (Andrew Caballero Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)
Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives for a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 28, 2023. Carter died on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains. (Andrew Caballero Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

As the guests filed into the pews at Glenn Memorial Church on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, 73, approached his father and sweetly gave him a kiss on the head.

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During the service, cameras showed the 39th president sitting in the front row alongside President Joe Biden, first lady Dr. Jill Biden, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first ladies Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former US First Lady Laura Bush, former US First Lady Michelle Obama, and former US First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 28, 2023. Carter died on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains.  (Andrew Caballero Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, along with other high-profile political figures like former first lady Laura Bush, were also in attendance. Musicians Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks and members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra performed.

Multiple family members and longtime friends shared kind words and memories about the “steel magnolia.”

Pastor Tony Lowden speaks during a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 28, 2023. Carter died on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains.  (Brynn Anderson / AFP via Getty Images)
Pastor Tony Lowden speaks during a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 28, 2023. Carter died on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains. (Brynn Anderson / AFP via Getty Images)

Amy Carter, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter’s only daughter, tearfully spoke at the service.

“My mom spent most of her life in love with my dad,” she said. “Their partnership and their love story was a defining feature of her life.”

She said she was going to share words from her father that exemplified the love he had for his late wife because he was unable to express them himself. Amy Carter, 56, read a letter that Jimmy Carter wrote to Rosalynn Carter 75 years ago when he was serving in the U.S. Navy.

In the letter, Jimmy Carter wrote that was “thrilled” every time he reunited with his wife after time apart.

“When I see you, I fall in love with you all over again,” he said.

Other family members like grandson Jason Carter recalled his grandmother telling him about the time she danced all night long with her husband.

“Her life was a sermon,” he added.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married for 77 years and shared four children: John William “Jack” Carter, 76, James Early "Chip" Carter, Donnel Jeffrey “Jeff” Carter, 71, and Amy Lynn Carter. The couple spent their final days together in hospice care at their home. Two days before her death, NBC News reported that Rosalynn Carter entered hospice care. Jimmy Carter has been receiving hospice care since February.

Following news of her death, President Carter said in a statement, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”

After a day of services in Atlanta, a private funeral service will be held on Nov. 29 in Plains, The Carter Center said. The funeral procession will take place at Maranatha Baptist Church.

The former first lady will be laid to rest in the family plot, which is located at the Carter home and also part of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com