A son’s unexpected gift arrives just in time

If you can hear the soft, lilting voice of Bing Crosby singing “I’ll be home for Christmas ... You can count on me ...” then you already know that sweet, sorrowful mixture of love and sadness that comes when a soldier away from home longs for a return to family for the holidays.

For U.S. Navy Corpsman Jeremy Fogle and his parents, Daryn and Sue Fogle, that song was brought to life in a surprise visit home Dec. 22, before Jeremy is set to deploy to Afghanistan in early January.

A surprise reunion happened at 1 p.m. Saturday in the middle of the front dining area of Bette’s Place, a favorite restaurant of the Fogles.

As dozens of diners in the full café looked on, Jeremy came from the foyer into the dining room. Sue’s back was turned as KATU reporter Emily Sinovic interviewed her, ostensibly about Bette’s famous cinnamon rolls and other mundane topics. Then Sue heard a soft, “Merry Christmas, Mom.”

She looked up and gasped when she saw Jeremy standing there, offering her a bouquet of roses

“I don’t believe this!” cried Sue when she looked up from her table and saw Jeremy, in full dress uniform.

She stood and hugged Jeremy for a full minute, kissing his cheeks and the top of his head and saying “This is best present ever!”

The Fogle family kept Jeremy’s unexpected visit a secret from Sue for a few days to make the mother-son reunion all the more powerful.

“His mother thought he couldn’t come home for Christmas and was upset he could not get leave before deploying a second time,” said Daryn, who helped orchestrate the lunchtime surprise. Jeremy, a 2005 graduate of Hood River Valley High School, is currently stationed at Camp Lejeune, Ga., and will deploy for his second tour mid-January.

Jeremy is assigned to Marine Battalion 2/9 and will likely be away at least six months. He will be home through Jan. 5.

“He was gone at beginning of Christmas last year and came home about six months later,” said Daryn.

“This is pretty amazing to be here, since I missed being home last year,” Jeremy said. “I’m just really glad to see them.”

Bette’s was selected as the surprise venue by Jeremy’s longtime friend Jillian Jones, whose mother, Gay Jones, owns the popular breakfast/lunch spot. Gay Jones and her staff left a table reserved for the Fogles, and some of the diners knew of the ruse. Everyone was rewarded with a truly heart-warming scene.

“Jillian drove Jeremy in from Portland and we got Sue to the restaurant with the ruse that they ordered her some cinnamon rolls as her Christmas gift,” explained Daryn.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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