So many active duty pictures I love of mom and have posted on Veterans Days and Birthdays and Mother’s Days throughout the years, but today while I was scrolling, looking for one of those shots, a thought struck me about this one.

It’s recent. Of all places, taken at a Goldsboro Hardee’s over honey biscuits, sweet tea and grits. No joke. More than the October 2018 shot of memory and pride, or this place and base that played such a huge role in the direction of our family, it personifies the dual honor of my mother the veteran AND the of my mother the once active duty single mom, balancing service to Country and kid squarely on one hip.

I don’t know how she did what she did. I don’t know how she does what she does. She’s home making Christmas cookies today and in November of 1978 ish 79 ish 80 ish, she was somehow home then too. Putting floaties on my arms at the pool, making nut roll, ordering the pizza from the place at the mall where the salads had salami, putting a roof over her high school age sister’s head (who also went on to be a lifelong vet) and mine, all while MacArthur’s Park was melting in the dark.

She protected me while she protected all that’s worth protecting. For Diane C. Bartlett and all who served in all branches past present and future, especially after this week’s anniversary of the Armistice Agreement, I’m ever more aware of the freedoms I’ve been granted. And yes, “thank you for your service,” but as I learned earlier today to say, I’ll#neverforget.

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