Talk about your conspiracy theories — this really was a conspiracy.
Family members made up all sorts of tall tales to surprise Woodbridge resident Tammy Delemos, who was reunited with her son after he recently returned from Iraq.
But it was all worth it when her son, Pfc. Josh Simpson, dressed in his Army fatigues, sneaked up from behind and served his mother the sandwich she ordered Tuesday at Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe on Lodi Avenue.
Simpson had served 11 months in Iraq before being sent to his base in Fort Riley, Kan., on Oct. 22. He hadn’t seen his mother since Feb. 5.
Her eyes filled with tears, Delemos embraced Simpson for a good couple of minutes. The crying got contagious, with customers, cooks and servers throughout the restaurant wiping their eyes as they watched mother and son greet each other.
Delemos’ family formed one big conspiracy to surprise her. And the stories were wild. Here’s a sampling:
Simpson texted his mother, telling her he would be in California for the holidays in five days. That text came at 8:30 Tuesday night, and Simpson was at Sacramento International Airport at the time.
“Basically, he’s been lying to his mother,” said Delemos’ husband, Andy Delemos.
Tammy Delemos’ daughter, Elena Theriot, said she needed to talk to her about a major issue facing her life. They agreed to meet for lunch Wednesday at Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe.
Simpson’s wife, Haley, told her mother-in-law what a long day it was for her on Tuesday. She was talking about flying from Kansas to Sacramento, which included some bad weather in Kansas. Realizing that she almost spilled the beans, Haley instead said it was a long day because of final exams she took Tuesday at a school in Kansas.
To further keep Simpson’s whereabouts a secret, the family arranged for Haley’s father to pick her and Simpson up at the airport. He drove them to his own house, where the couple surprised Haley’s mother as well.
Andy Delemos, Simpson’s stepfather, was also in on the conspiracy, along with the Butcher Shoppe employees. Only his mom was in the dark.
Simpson is a 2009 graduate of Franklin High School in Elk Grove. He and Haley, who were childhood sweethearts, got married on Jan. 22 of this year. She lived near his base in Kansas and went to school there while Simpson was in Iraq.
Simpson said his 11 months in Iraq were pretty uneventful, and he wasn’t wounded in action. He will return to Fort Riley in two weeks, but he doesn’t face a second tour of duty in Iraq. He hasn’t decided whether he will re-enlist in the Army.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.