When the Richter family excitedly hopped in their car, ready to start their best ever spring break vacation together, they decided that it was the perfect occasion to document every step of the way. After all, it’s not often that they’re all together. So, what better to start off the series of photos than with a selfie? A lot of families take selfies together, as it’s the perfect way to capture a moment. But, what if your selfie turns out in a way you weren’t expecting? And we’re not just talking about not liking your appearance.
When the Richter family huddled in the car to take their first selfie suddenly, something mysterious popped out in the background of the photo, causing them a huge fright. What on earth was it?
Meet The Richters
The Richter family is a close-knit family who loves spending quality time together. Husband and wife, Amber and Erika, decided to take a road trip with their children in March 2017.
The trip wasn’t anything unusual for them. However, what was about to happen would surprise the whole family.
Ready For Their Getaway
The family made sure to plan their trip to take place over spring break. This way, the parents would be able to enjoy their time off of work and the kids would have a break from school. The girls were excited that they didn't have school and wouldn't have to worry about completing any homework. They had enough time, so the family decided to make the most of their time off and plan out a nice journey. They mapped out where they would be going and chose the places they most wanted to visit.
They had all their suitcases packed up in the car and they were ready to go. As you can see in the photo, the family looks very excited to start their journey. However, despite their excitement, some unplanned hindrances started to pop up and it started to seem like things weren't going to flow as smoothly as they had planned and hoped.
Like every ordinary family, the Richters sometimes have their disagreements, despite how close they are. When they got in the car, the girls started arguing about who was going to sit where and how much leg room they had or didn't have. Because of this, their parents decided where each child was going to sit, in order to prevent problems from occurring throughout the journey.
It sounds very similar to what a teacher does for her class. Naturally, the parents sat in the front. The father was assigned the driving duties, while the mother was seating next to him, guiding her husband with the directions. So, that left their three children to sit tightly in the backseat and nudge each other for more space.
A Turn Of Events
After all of the family members finally got comfortable in their seats, they were ready to start their journey. The first stop- picking up food for their road trip, one of the most (if not the most) important stop of the journey. One of the best parts of road trips is munching on your favorite snacks.
You know, those snacks that you only allow yourself to eat during road trips. You save them for moments like these. So, as the family started off their journey, it seemed like any other trip they had taken together. As the family got ready to pull out of the driveway, something peculiar happened.
After all their children had calmed down and settled in their seats, Erik put the car in drive and they started on their way. However, about one mile down the road, Erik suddenly stopped the car. His family, not understanding his reasoning, complained about how he had stopped without even telling them. Then, Erik reached down for his cell phone and told his family to stop whining and that he wanted to snap a family selfie. Once his children quieted down, the family huddled closely together and smiled.
It was a great picture to capture the sweet moment.
Erik wanted to snap selfies of the family for several reasons. Of course, he wanted the pictures as memories of the family's time together. But, he also wanted it for his son. At the time, he was working on a scrapbook for his son. He wanted to fill the scrapbook up with pictures, tickets, schedules, and anything else that he could gather which would add to their story. The family selfie would be a perfect addition to the collection because it showed off the family's close bond and hilarious personality.
It was too bad that Erik's daughters weren't dressed their best, as they chose the look of comfort for their road trip, which makes sense.
Strike A Pose
You already know that Erik stopped the car to snap a picture of the whole family together. But, he also wanted to take a few candid photos. So, he photographed his kids when they weren't looking. His daughters realized what their father was doing, and wanted to see the pictures he had taken. So, they took his phone and looked through the photos. But, when they looked down at his camera, they both cracked up because they realized that their dad had been filming the whole time and not taking pictures, as he had intended to do.
Classic dad mistake. Erik acted very surprised that he made such a mistake.
Oops, My Bad
When the girls made their father aware of his mistake, he said "Oh, shoot." But still, his mistake only added to the funny situation and you can see from all of the kids' faces that they were enjoying their time together. Erik was good at taking his mistake lightheartedly and making a joke out of it.
While Erik continued filming his family, the family noticed something unusual all of a sudden. What was about to happen next was going to leave the family in complete shock.
Guess Who Coming?
While the Richter children were laughing at their father for being technologically inept, suddenly, a dark figure popped up behind the car. The family hadn't noticed his presence at the beginning because the person intentionally disguised himself so as to surprise the family.
When the person revealed his identity, the Richters thought that they were imagining things.
A Familiar Face
At the sight of the man, the family starting screaming like crazy. The family was not screaming of fear, rather, they were so excited by what was happening. It would have been clear to anyone that would hear the family screaming, that something amazing had just taken place. As it turned out, the mystery man in the dark hoodie was not a robber, but somebody who the family knew quite well.
He was actually Amber and Erik's beloved son and the three girls' brother! Nobody could put the two and two together and comprehend what was going on. You can see they closed their eyes to check if they were actually in reality.
You might be wondering to yourself if the Richters accidentally left their son behind or perhaps forgot to include him in the family vacation plans. It would seem that they would love to have had their only son join along on the trip, especially when considering how close of a family they are. But, their son Rowan was not expected to be there at all.
The family did not expect him to be close by at all and definitely not joining in on their spring break trip, not that they didn't want him to. His presence perplexed everyone. Full of laughter, Richter crawled over the seats to embrace his shocked family. “Hey, guys,” Richter casually smiled.
Some People Don't Like Surprises
While the entire family was dumbfounded by Rowan's presence and couldn't get a word out if they tried, Rowan's mom was the first one to speak up and actually say something comprehensible. Of course, she couldn't have been happier to see her son, especially since she hadn't seen him in quite some time. But, the way in which he exposed himself scared the living daylight out of her.
She shrieked “Oh my god, you scared the hell out of me!” You know how mothers are... they can be frightened easily and tense up. It's no surprise that Rowan's stunt triggered her anxiety in such a way.
As the whole family began to piece everything together and digest the situation, they finally took the time to welcome their son and brother home and express their happiness at being reunited. Rowan then hopped in the backseat and jumped on his sisters, giving them lots of love and a warm embrace.
You could tell by their faces that they were so excited to have their big brother home after being apart for such a long time. However, they then understood that another family member must have been involved with this.
He Must Have Had An Accomplice
Amber was dying to know how her son was able to pull off this surprise on his own. She immediately realized that a prank like this would have required the collaboration of another family member. So, she began to think about anything peculiar happening over the last while which would give her insight into how this happened. She thought about Erik's behavior as of late and tried to pinpoint anything odd that he had done. Had he changed the passwords on his cell phone or laptop?
She wasn't able to come up with anything. After she gave up trying to find an answer, she turned to her husband and asked whether he knew about any of this.
Dad Was In On It
When Amber asked her husband whether he had been in on the secret, her husband couldn't have hidden his smile if he had a bag over his head. It was very clear that Erik had been in on the surprise. Erik had planned with Rowan his homecoming and had even picked him up from the airport when his flight landed in Oregon and drove him home.
When Amber understood that her husband had tricked her, she jokingly yelled “You’re evil!”
It was now time to give mom a hug. Rowan got in the front seat and gave her a huge and much-anticipated hug after awaiting their reunion. The next few minutes were quite emotional as the family reunited together, all doting smiles from ear to ear. Seeing their brother and son for the first time in so long triggered a lot of emotions for the family.
When the emotions had calmed down a bit, the family understood that now they would be together for the whole spring break and have a chance to spend quality time together as a full family unit. This knowledge brought them so much happiness and they were ready to enjoy their spring break together.
The moment was so sweet and heartfelt of the family rejoicing together and Erik suddenly remembered that he caught it on tape. He wondered if he should keep the video circulating just among family and friends to enjoy or whether he should share it with the rest of the world to see.
He thought, why not and posted it on YouTube, thinking that maybe some people would see it. However, after he posted it on the video sharing site, the video exploded and went completely viral, much to his surprise and everyone else's.
Everyone Loves A Tearjerker
Shortly after posting the video, it began to accumulate almost 90,000 views. The family couldn't believe that they themselves were at the center of a viral video circulation. People started to share the video on different networking sites, and their beautiful family moment was making major rounds.
People were leaving really sweet comments discussing the love and bond between the family members and the Richters were so proud to get this kind of fame and acknowledgment for something so genuine. As of today, the video has over 2 million views.
The Comments Kept Coming
People were posting both loving comments, appreciating the Richters family connection, and also hilarious comments about the moment that Rowan popped out of the trunk. The comments continued to flow with one user sharing “[I] don’t know what I liked better, Mom’s extreme reaction or the love in Dad’s non-stop smile! It’s a tie.”
Other users acknowledged the family's excitement at being reunited with one of their long lost siblings and how you could tell how much the family loved each other deeply.
Heart Warming Reactions
Users on Facebook also made note of the emotions in the video and commented “There were lots of emotion [and] hugs. [It] will always be one of my most favorite memories, nothing can compare to the love of family.”
Viewers of the video could feel what the family was experiencing and understand the joy that the Richter's must have felt to be reunited with their son. Another person wrote, “As usual, a few tears in my eyes, remembering when our family’s special Marine landed his jet. It was a heartwarming moment for all."
Now It's Grandma's Turn
After surprising his entire immediate family, there was another person that Rowan still had to see. Somebody else in the family who still didn't know of his presence was Rowan's grandmother. She had no idea that Erik and Rowan planned a surprise for everyone by coming home from the Navy. They decided to add in another plot twist and go surprise grandma.
They knew that she definitely would not be expecting Rowan's appearance. It would make a great addition to the already heartwarming YouTube video. So, they set off to shoot the video.
Their Grandma Doesn't Suspect Anything
First things first was to call grandmother. So, Erik picked up the phone and called her, telling her that they were coming over to visit and make sure she was home. It was known in the family that the grandmother absolutely loved Rowan. They couldn't wait to see his reaction.
After their grandmother verified that she was home and that the family should come over and see her, they were all excited about seeing her reaction to Rowan.
Suprise, It's Me!
The Richter's planned out the family's visit perfectly. The grandmother had no idea they were coming. So, the whole family went into her house, sitting around talking and having some food for an hour. Obviously, without Rowan. During this time, Rowan was hiding, waiting to come and surprise his grandmother.
As the family got up to leave the house and say goodbye, Erik motioned for everyone to come into the other room, as well as their grandmother. He told his mother that she needed to come see something. This is when Rowan silently snuck up behind her.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
When Rowan snuck behind his grandmother and she realized that there was something behind her, she turned around. And what did she find? None other than her adorable grandson standing there. She was so shocked as this was the last thing she was expecting to happen at this exact moment.
She let out a huge shriek, much like the one his mother let out. She could not believe what her eyes were seeing. It seemed like the family's second prank was well worth it.
She Couldn't Believe Her Eyes
Although Rowan nearly scared his grandmother to death, she was so delighted to see her grandson that she didn't care. When she got over the initial surprise, she started cracking up hysterically and lifted up her grandson as much as she could. After letting him loose, she said to him “Shame on you!” in a joking way.
This was the last thing she ever could have expected and she never thought that her grandson would greet her in such a way for the first time.
Living His Dream
Rowan's grandmother couldn't stop hugging her grandson. She was so proud of all that her grandson had become and didn't want to let him go. The whole family then spent quality time together, something that rarely happens. For Rowan to be joining in on that, was just the cherry on top. Rowan's grandmother reminisced how Rowan always had dreams of becoming a soldier.
He used to make forts and organize his siblings to play fight against each other. She was so happy and proud of him to be living his dream.
The time came for Rowan and his family to leave their grandmother. She didn't want them to go and attempted to make them stay longer to stretch out their time together. But, because of Rowan's limited time, the family had to get on their way.
Rowan's family really didn't want him to leave, but Rowan, while thrilled to reunite with his family, knew that he had a duty to the Marines and had to return to his second family on base.
When Duty Calls
When the Richter's were saying goodbye to their grandmother, she gave her grandson a big kiss on his forehead. She wasn't sure when she would be seeing him again. It was a very emotional goodbye and his grandmother was sad that he would once again be leaving for base. It only got harder and harder for her every time, seeing him leave. Rowan was once again deployed and he returned to his duties as a Marine.
The Richters were so happy to see their son and brother, although their time together was short. They valued their time spent with him and just appreciated the fact that he could make it home for a little.
The Richters didn't know that Rowan was coming home because he had been so busy with the Navy. This was the last thing they were ever expecting to happen. They were so proud of their son, who had gone from strength to strength while serving in the armed forces. At the time he came home, he was on active duty with the U.S. Marines. Actually, Rowen wasn't just any other soldier.
He was a Lance Corporal in the respected military branch. Rowan has a lot of duties and thus has to be fully dedicated and committed to his job. For this reason, he doesn't make it home to see his family very often.
In the U.S. Marine Corps, a Lance Corporal is the third highest rank in the order of seniority. It is just above private first class and below corporal and being a U.S. serviceman. Because of this, Rowen finds himself traveling the world a lot.
He is seriously dedicated to his high ranking job and thus, he doesn't have time to see his family much. This is why these moments that he gets to see his family are so precious to both him and to his family. And to get it all caught on camera is absolutely epic.