By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – “Daddy!” said a very surprised, but very happy Addy Poores, who on Tuesday saw her father pop out from under a big Christmas box at The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
It was an emotional reunion for Jesse, Paige and Addy, who hadn’t seen each other in eight months while Jesse was deployed in Afghanistan.
“We Skyped each other a couple of times,” said Jesse, who’s home for 15 days.
But there’s nothing like seeing your family in person, and the get-together was an unforgettable moment.
Addy, dressed in a red Christmas outfit trimmed with Christmas trees and a red bow in her hair, had told Santa she wanted a skateboard and purple twinkle toes. Afterward, he pointed to the box under which Jesse had hidden. As she walked over, Jesse came out from under the box and opened his arms wide to the 3-year-old, who was more than happy to return the gesture.
“Is it a good present?” Jesse asked her. Addy nodded and smiled.
It had been a long four days for Jesse, who left Afghanistan on Friday. After stops in Kuwait, then Canada, he landed in Atlanta early Tuesday and finally Memphis, where Paige picked him up.
“I’m on a 12-month deployment, and I’ve been gone eight months,” he said. “I got Ramp&R to take time off for our second child, who’s due on the 19th.”
It’s Jesse’s third deployment – once in Iraq, and twice to Afghanistan. A sergeant in the U.S. Army, he missed Addy’s first Christmas. But he won’t miss this one, or the birth of Sophie.
Paige’s parents, Joy and Ron Boutwell of Tupelo, helped celebrate. Both shed tears too.
“How could you not?” Ron said.
And it was Joy who came up with the idea Sunday to have a special welcoming ceremony for Jesse. Paige called Cindy Childs, the mall’s marketing director, who helped get everything in place for the reunion.
“We’ve been waiting to see Santa until Daddy came home,” Paige said. “She’s known Santa’s been here awhile, too.”
When Jesse heard about the plan, he said he was excited.
And when he saw Addy again?
“It was amazing,” he said, holding Addy tight.
The Poores family will spend quite a bit of quality time over the next two weeks, including watching a few movies together.
Then there’s the other Christmas gift that Addy and mom and dad are looking forward to as well.
“Baby Sophie,” she said.