We really learn to appreciate the things that we don’t often have a chance to do or see on a regular basis. So, while some parents dread going to their children’s sporting events and musical concerts, others would do anything to witness their child performing in front of an audience. One dad proved this point when he trekked across country to surprise his little girl.

Sergeant Jimmy Dale Sprouse had been deployed with the military for fifteen months so he is a perfect example of someone who has had to sacrifice a lot of precious time with his family. If anyone knows what the expression, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” means, its the men and women in the military and the family members who stay behind awaiting their arrival. The long-term absence takes a toll on the family and often times children only have one caretaker instead of the two that they are used to. Not to mention the unknown that is sure to wreck havoc on one’s mentality. There is no telling where a member of the military will be deployed to at the last minute and often times there is no agreed upon time that they will be gone for. It takes a toll on everyone involved.

“It’s not only the soldier that is serving this country. It’s the families, it’s the kids, it’s the grandparents, it’s everybody. They’re serving with them,” said Sprouse, who knows well how a deployment can weigh on a family. “They have to deal with a lot, with me being active duty military. Being gone for long amounts of time, not being able to talk as much as you’d like to. Not being able to be at basically school events that, you know, most parents get the advantage of doing.”

In order to make his ultimate surprise a success, he had to make a plan to show up at his daughter’s concert when she least expected it. With the help of his daughter Shelby’s school, Sprouse showed up during her band practice. He stealthily snuck up behind her with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. He approached her quietly and poked her in the back and the second that she turned around and looked into his eyes, he broke down in tears.

“It’s a lot of emotion. It’s nice to finally actually be home. You don’t realize how much you miss home until you’re gone…It’s hard being away from home and you finally get to see them again. How much they’ve grown, how much you missed out on. She was about right ‘here,’” Sprouse said as he pointed to his waist. “But she, she got big. Video-ing with them don’t do them justice.”

While most families may dread being with each other at times, they have no idea what it is like being away and sacrificing the little things…a band practice, a baseball game, or just simply sitting down for dinner together. Like most things in life…it’s the little things that matter most.

-Jimmy Dale Sprouse had been deployed with the military for 15 months. This brought me to tears…