Parents

Watch this mom lose it when her daughter surprises her after 2 years away

"Don't have a heart attack," Kate Visser kept warning her mom, who was shrieking in disbelief at the sight of her daughter standing on the porch.

Wendy Rice's shock was understandable: She hadn't set eyes on her daughter in nearly two years.

At age 18, Visser left her home in Oregon to attend school in England. She fell in love and, in 2014, moved to the English city of Canterbury with her new husband, Peter.

So the mother-daughter duo reunion that occurred July 13 when Visser flew 5,000 miles from England to Oregon for her mother's 51st birthday had been a long time coming. The separation had been tough on mom and daughter alike, but they were using texts, calls and voicemail to keep in touch.

When they had a candid conversation about Rice's upcoming birthday, Rice told Visser she would be far too busy to celebrate with anyone.

Kate Visser
"I knew it was going to be hard to live in England. When she sent me away to university, I knew that was going to be tough. We were never far like that. Maybe one day we’ll be closer."

Little did she know that her daughter was Googling the next flight to Oregon.

"I’ll just make it happen," is how Visser described her decision to drop everything and surprise her mom. "It was already too hard at that point for us not to see each other."

Kate Visser
"She wanted me to stay longer, and asked if I could extend my trip."

Luckily, Visser had the flexibility to take some time away from the marketing company she runs with her husband. But it was a "no-brainer" for the young professional who says Rice is her "best friend."

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"She was a better friend than anyone I ever had in high school," Visser said of her mom. "We spent a lot of time together as I was growing up. We’re very different, but we’re very close."

Kate Visser
"We got to sit on the deck, laugh; things I haven’t been able to do with my mom in so long."

Because of her parents' jobs as developers, Visser spent most of her childhood moving around. But it was in Oregon she attended high school and felt most at home.

So it only made sense to pay her mom a visit in the state while Rice happened to be back in Oregon for work. It didn't matter to Visser that she'd be a few days early for Rice's July 28 birthday.

"I figured I'd find the house and show up at her door. She was on the Oregon coast, renting a house."

Visser didn't want anyone to catch on to her plan, so she pre-recorded videos at home in Canterbury to send while in transit, and didn't ask for an address when she arrived.

Kate Visser
Visser shared photos like this one from Canterbury in an attempt to have Rice believe it was just another day at home.

Instead, she used details like the home's proximity to the water, or the gazebo she'd seen in photos sent by her mom, as clues to its exact location.

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Kate Visser
Visser used this gazebo to help pin-point the location of her mother's rental.

"I searched for the house along the Siuslaw River in Oregon. I followed the water with my finger on Google maps to find where that pier was along the water, dropped the pin, and said ‘drive there.'"

After roughly three hours of driving, Visser spotted the home along the water and knocked on the door.

Kate Visser
Rice's reaction when she opened the door to find Visser standing on the porch.

"I was really scared when she screamed like that and started calling me 'Katelyn.' She only ever calls me Katelyn when she is upset with me," Visser said with a laugh. "I knew when I saw her face she had absolutely no idea."

In the days following, mother and daughter ventured along the coast together and did important things like drink wine and catch up. (They also did some work because, after all, work was what Rice had claimed to be "too busy" with to have a birthday get-together.)

Kate Visser
Visser and Rice share a glass of wine (or two) after being reunited in Oregon.

"It was kind of special," Visser told TODAY. "It wasn’t just a visit. Just being in each other’s presence was enough."

The trip was "perfect," according to Visser, and she and her mom hope to do it again before long.

"She's the best mom a girl could ask for," Visser said. "She's beautiful, selfless, and a great best friend."

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