This young army wife had a terrific idea when husband, Jared, father of her three young children was shipped to Iraq for a year. The children were young and Marissa was afraid they would forget their father while he was away. She had the brilliant idea of having a blown up, life size picture of Jared backed with foam board made for the children. The picture was a huge success. Called, "Flat Daddy" the photo sits with them at the dinner table, plays games with them, goes to ball games and shares in everything they do.
Marissa Stewart's husband and the father of her three children is away in Iraq for a year. The children are all young and Marissa racked her brain to find some way to keep the memory of their father alive and close to them. What she came up with was a lifelike, life size photo of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jared Steward. She had the photo mounted on strong foam board and she says it has done exactly what she hoped for. The kids are overjoyed. They play games with it and prop it up in dad’s chair at the dinner table.
Marissa started a blog called, “Flat Daddy”and posted photos of Flat Jared around where they live in Spokane, Washington. From Iraq, Jared could check the blog and see himself in scenes around town and playing with his kids back home. Jared has been home only once during his stay in Iraq and “Flat Daddy” gets more wear every day. He attended the school soccer games, went trick or treating and even ran a race taped to his brother’s back. Flat Daddy plays hide and seek with the kids and had his picture made on Santa’s lap. Son Jeff says, he’s all beaten up because we’ve taken him so many places.
Marissa has faced problems while at home alone. 8 year old Jeff has Asperger’s disease and has to have regular therapy, and 2 year old Mira was hospitalized with an infection. Marissa had to take a part time job to be able to meet all the bills. Marissa says, “It’s hard raising the kids alone but Jared’s job is to focus on taking care of his troops, and my job is to hold down the fort at home.”
One horrible moment was when Marissa’s car was stolen with, “Flat Daddy” sitting in the front seat. Marissa says, “The kids were devastated.” They wanted to know, “Why would anyone want to hurt daddy.” A kind stranger read about the incident and donated another, “Flat Daddy.” He still smiles as he sits beside them at the dinner table or on the couch while they watch TV. 5 year old Joel, says the best part is that, I can tell him I miss him and love him anytime I want, and I can hug him too.
This smart mom found a way to make the children's separation from their daddy less daunting and gave them a way to still feel closer to him. When Dad returns home, he won’t be a stranger at all. They have had his life size image with them every day. Dad has played games with them and gone the same places they have. Mom gave these kids a wonderful gift that they will remember always.
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