Trista Sarles-Redfield was sitting on the carpet, listening to her teacher read a story about Martin Luther King Jr, when she received the surprise of a lifetime.
Her stoic Army Major dad, deployed overseas for the past year, appeared over her shoulder, carrying a small bouquet of pink-tipped roses.
The Dunedin Elementary fourth-grader hadn't expected to see him for another day.
She instantly got up and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"She was going to cry," her mother Amanda Redfield said. "I saw her tearing up and she had to catch herself. She needed a distraction."
That's when Trista, a straight-A student on the Principal's List, released the bear hug she had around her dad and stepped back quietly. She took the roses from her father, thanked him, placed them neatly on her desk and told him she had to get back to the story on the carpet.
After the surprise, they were able to spend some time together catching up in the cafeteria.
"They have their own little secrets, their own little codes and things," Trista's mother said as she watched them eating and chatting together from a distance.
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