Local servicewoman comes home, surprises family after one year apart

If most of us were asked ‘what did you do when you turned six?,’ we probably wouldn’t be able to answer, but we’re guessing Brooklyn Lightfoot won’t be able to say the same down the road.

Her aunt Taylor Ruggles has been serving the country with the U.S. Navy for the last two years and she’s missed Brooklyn’s last three birthday parties. That streak was broken Sunday, when Ruggles surprised her 6-year-old niece at her birthday party at the Blue Zoo Aquarium.

“I haven’t seen Brooklyn, [my nephews] Hudson, Dylan, my sister, and my brother for a year, so that’s been rough,” Ruggles said. “Brooklyn — I was very, very close with before I left and moved and so it was very hard for her. She didn’t understand why I was leaving or where I was going.”

Ruggles serves across the country, aboard the U.S.S. Constitution in Massachusetts. As soon as Lightfoot turned around and saw Ruggles, she yelled out ‘Auntie Taylor!,’ ran over, and gave her a hug.

“I was just awestruck that she was able to still be so excited and remember who I am and surprise her before she knew I was coming home,” Ruggles said. “They’re definitely very young, so having that ability still to mold them and then they’ll remember that I molded them, that I was there for all those things so it creates more of a bond with them as well.”

Ruggles will be home for the next two weeks, meaning she’ll also get to celebrate Christmas with Lightfoot and the rest of their family.