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Growing up, caring for my mother

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Being an only child raised in a single-parent household comes with its own unique set of challenges. And it becomes even more difficult when that parent is sick or disabled.

As sick as she was, there were days my mother couldn't even get out of bed to do the simplest things. I learned at a very young age how to take care of not only myself, but my mother as well.

On one occasion, my grandmother recalled how I learned to make foods like macaroni and spaghetti on the stove by the time I was five or six years old.

There were many times my mother and I found ourselves in difficult situations, and sometimes it seemed like it wouldn't get any better. But she was a woman of faith, who believed in God's plan and relied on the love and support of her daughter to get through difficult times.

All the responsibility I learned as a young child, and still hold now, helped better prepare me for my future - a future with the U.S. Air Force.

Learning the specifics of caring for my mother and her medical conditions taught me patience and the importance of doing things right.

Those qualities, along with attention to detail, helped me get through basic training and technical school and will continue to help me succeed as a first-term Airman at my first base.

Coming into the Air Force, I heard a lot about resiliency. At first, I brushed off the lessons and briefings I received on the subject because they seemed so repetitive.

But over time, I pondered what it meant not only to be resilient in the Air Force, but also in my personal life. Overcoming adversity is a valuable lesson I learned during the past few years, and the past few months as a brand new Airman.

Growing up, I could have accepted the situation and just sat around complaining and thinking, "Oh poor, poor me," but instead, I took what I was given and learned from it.

Everyone has to face difficult situations in their lifetime. The difference is how we push through and persevere, to become better people in the end.

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