PHOENIX — An Arizona fifth-grader received the surprise of the year, perhaps of a lifetime — her mom home for the Thanksgiving holiday after serving for the last several months overseas in the U.S. Army.
With balloons and a fruit bouquet, Army Staff Sergeant Madeline Perez stood quietly in her daughter's classroom, feet away from where she was seated.
One look — and then a second to make sure who she was seeing was in fact there. And then a smile, some tears, and a hug.
"Mira, for you," said mom. "For being such a sweet and caring girl."
Xailyz Morales, a fifth-grader, at a loss for words, but understandably, no words were needed to express the excitement to see her mom again.
"Having to be away from the family, missing birthdays, missing special occasions, school activities, not being able to be in that chair and actually be present for them -- it's heartbreaking," Perez said. But, she has her family's support.