KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) --- The rain was cold, the ground soft with mud, and breath hung in the air. It was in the low thirties but felt much lower. Still there she was, pushing a walker a long a row of memorials.
Jo Begley rarely misses a Thursday morning at the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. "It's what mothers do," Jo will say. "I'm not special"
She has followed the same routine for five years.
Catch the bus at 8:30, walk down the hill to her son's grave and begin picking up each leaf that has fallen on the ground where his body lays.
They the gloves come on she washes the stone by hand, careful to remove each piece of dirt.
Finally, a prayer; when you ask what she says her response is simple. " I pray. I don't talk to him because I don't know whether he listens or not. But I thank God for his life and for what a wonderful son he was."
Her son Harold went to fight in Vietnam. He came back a wounded man.
"He came back whole physically but he was damaged with PTSD and Agent Orange and all that horrible stuff. He wasn't the only one to go through that, so many other people did."
Harold lived on his own until 2006. Jo took care of him until he died 2 years later.
Now, she takes care of him the only way she knows how. Each move is slow and deliberate, painful. But it's a burden she welcomes.
"He was just full of love and not the kind of person you'd think would go to war and be involved in all that," she said.
The ritual takes twenty minutes. Then that slow walk back up the hill careful not to slip. She'll wait nearly an hour for that bus to return.
Goodbye for now, until next week.
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