Having grown up as a Navy brat with a dad who deployed for most of my childhood, I get teary-eyed whenever I see it happen to other kids. It brings back all the sadness of watching my dad climb the steps of whatever ship and disappear over the horizon for months at time, missing every life event from the loss of my first tooth to my last father-daughter dance. Every time I hear a story about a kid who misses his or her parent when they are deployed, it cuts me deep.
Addie Rodriguez is a nine year old from San Antonio, Texas, and her dad is a senior airman who was recently sent to train in California. As she says, “I wish you were here too, I miss you,” to him over the phone, I realized: All military brats have, at some point, been Addie Rodriguez.
“She’s really tough and she understands that her dad goes away for a reason,” her mom, Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, told NBC.
Parents’ days are always hard for military brats. And Addie’s heartbreak was made very public during a school football game where her cheerleading team did a father-daughter routine. Her mom didn’t know what to do, and Addie sat crying on the sidelines.
But a senior, Matthew Garcia, jumped down from the bleachers and hopped the fence to hoist Addie on his shoulders so she wouldn’t be left out.
“I just felt like somebody saved my life,” Addie told NBC.
Garcia said he was happy to make her day.
About Garcia’s gesture, her mom added, “My heart just melted.”