Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

SHOW LOW — Great-grandma Judy Clark of Show Low, has been secretly planning a surprise coming home for her son, Army Command Sgt. Major Frank Rael. He’s been stationed in Hawaii for several months and hasn’t even seen where the family is living now because they moved to a home just outside Show Low in August while he was overseas. 

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

From left is middle son Ari (10); oldest son Sean (16); wife, Kelly; youngest son, Matthew (6) and Command Sergeant Major Frank Rael. With some heavy-duty orchestrating from Grandma Clark, Frank Rael surprises his family by coming home for Christmas. He has been stationed in Hawaii for several months. Show Low has been the family’s home only since last August. Frank will be joining his family full-time later in 2020 when he retires from a 30-year Army career. Grandma Judy Clark convinced the family to meet her at Show Low Cafe for breakfast on Monday morning so that Dad could walk in and surprise everyone.

Rael’s wife, Kelly, and their three children moved and got settled in the new house all by themselves. The decision was made to move to Show Low because that’s where Frank wants to hang his hat in retirement.

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

Command Sergeant Major Frank Rael surprises his family for Christmas. His youngest son, Matthew, 6, hugs dad while mom, Kelly, is teary-eyed in the background.

This is where Great Grandma Judy Clark comes in.

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas - hugs for dad

From left are Frank and Kelly’s oldest son, Sean, 16; Kelly Rael; Frank Rael, Matthew, 6, and Ari, 10. Command Sergeant Major Frank Rael came home for Christmas and surprised his immediate and extended family by walking into Show Low Cafe dressed as Santa Claus. Rael had not been home from his base in Hawaii for several months. Great Grandma Judy Clark secretly planned the homecoming with Frank.

“Frank hasn’t even seen where the family is living,” says Clark. “We want to surprise the family by getting him home for Christmas. Right now they think he can’t come home,” she explained last week.

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

Clark convinced the family to get together with her for breakfast at Show Low Cafe Monday, Dec. 23. He walked into the dining area in a Santa suit where about 14 family members were seated.

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

At first, they didn’t recognize him. Much to his wife’s surprise, he kissed her through his fluffy white beard and the mystery was revealed.

Great grandmother brings Dad home for Christmas

His three sons, Sean, Ari and Matthew blinked several times, looking at one another for assurances that it was true — Dad is home for Christmas!

Reach the reporter at

lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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