A grandma was left screaming in shock on her birthday when her military-serving granddaughter flew in to surprise her during a family vacation after three years apart.
Grandmother Iona, 77, thought her birthday surprise was a visit to a relaxing hotel in the Caribbean with all her family – but little did she know there was one more surprise in store.
Iona lives in St. Maarten, part of the Dutch Caribbean, and as she was shown around the hotel room on her native island, she admired the accommodation and took a seat in an armchair.
But then, in the corner of the room, a door flung open and out came Iona’s granddaughter Giana Copeland – who goes by Gigi – who she had not seen since 2019.
As soon as the realization hit that her granddaughter was in a room with her once more, Iona let out a huge scream before crying on her granddaughter’s shoulder.
Gigi, 23, is currently stationed at Aviano Air Base in Italy with the United States Air Force, and before that she was based in Texas, meaning she had not seen her grandmother for three years.
Having started to feel homesick and being granted leave, Gigi contacted her aunt to ask if it might be possible to plan a big family surprise for Iona.
After being collected from the airport by her cousins, Gigi was taken to the accommodation on the day of September 24, where she hid until her grandmother arrived.
Gigi said: “I was extremely happy to see her reaction – I was worried she would be too frightened, but instead she was just overwhelmed with emotions trying to grasp what was happening.
“Later that night she kept holding my arm and saying, ‘I really can’t believe you are here.’
“My mom was on FaceTime watching the whole thing play out and it made her cry, and everyone else, like my grandmother’s siblings, were very happy watching the video just seeing her happy.
“People on social media have been nothing but nice – some of the comments people were reflecting on the time they spent with their grandparents and how much they miss them now that they’re gone.
“It really made me open my eyes to the fact that I need to start cherishing these moments more.”