Creekland Middle School sixth-grader Alexis “Lexi” Abrams thought her father, Capt. Robert Abrams, was still serving in Afghanistan when she walked to the front of her class to read a poem she wrote about heroes.
As the 11-year-old began reading her poem, her father walked into the class dressed in desert uniform, holding a dozen white roses, and surprised her with a big hug. The National Guardsman was returning from a year serving in western Afghanistan.
“When he came in I was really excited,” Lexi said after reuniting with her dad. “When they’re gone, you feel like you’re left behind, like they left you. But when they come home, it’s the best thing in the world.”
Hugs and tears marked the father’s homecoming, and Abram’s daughter said she was really surprised.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my goodness, is he really here?’” she said. “The last deployment he surprised me, too.”
Abrams, a technician with the Georgia National Guard, said he planned to spend time making up for the year he’d been overseas.
“It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” Abrams said. “There’s nothing like family. I spent a year away from them, and when you come home you realize how much you missed.”
The visit was planned ahead of time by Abrams’ wife, Creekland Principal Dr. Deborah Wiseman and others at the school.
“We’ve been planning this since last Wednesday,” Wiseman said.
Lexi said she misses being “daddy’s little girl” when her father is deployed.
“I miss doing the ‘dad’ stuff,” she said. “When I was little, we used to snuggle on the couch together and watch movies and TV shows together.”
The first thing she planned to do after leaving school with her parents was to hold onto her father and not let him go, she said.
“I’m going to lay down with him and make sure he doesn’t go out of my arms,” she said.
After returning home from his second tour, stationed in Afghanistan about 60 miles from the Iranian border, Abrams said he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his family.
“Spend some quality time together, and try to make up for what I missed,” he said Monday of his immediate plans.
In 2010, Abrams served his first tour in Iraq, he said.
“It’s never easy, especially as the kids get older,” he said. “Missing the little things, the school, all their extracurricular activities, sports, just not being there is really tough. When you get home, there’s a gap.”
Abram’s daughter said her father is an inspiration, “because it’s hard to leave your family for a year to sacrifice for everybody.”
Abram’s wife, Heather, said the family planned to surprise their son as well, 7-year-old second-grader Preston Abrams, an Avery Elementary School student, during his lunch period later on Monday.
The family walked through the hallways of Creekland Middle School after the reunion, hugging and holding hands as they went, on their way out the front doors of the school to their next destination.