In 1993 my dad and I were sitting on the porch discussing my options for college. I was lucky. I had received scholarship opportunities from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. All three offered some amazing options. However, the choice was easy once my dad summarized his memory of the services from his years in the Army, 'The Army and Marines sleep in the mud, the Navy sleeps on a boat, the Air Force sleeps in a hotel...which one sounds like you?' And thus began my life as an Air Force officer. I was fortunate to travel the world and live everywhere from Hawaii to Alaska. I have earned a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees. In 2008, I separated from the Air Force to begin my next challenge, raising three boys. The life is crazy, but I love it.
The good was not without cost. In the early years, my husband and I spent a lot of time apart. In the later years, I was forced to be fiercely independent and became worn down. Now in retirement, we are no longer able to forge a life together. I am now faced, as more many are, with living a life completely different from the one I expected.
It feels strange to say that we are no longer a military family. The military way of life gets under your skin. It changes the way a person looks at life. For me, it makes me appreciative of the life we have in the here and now. I am grateful for the ability to now settle down in North Carolina and give my children a taste of the childhood I had. They will be able to go to the same schools and develop long-term friendships. I will be able to settle down and develop long-term friendships. Together we will grow deep roots and appreciate the importance of using those roots to spread our branches far and wide.