A mother’s graduation from nursing school was all the more worthwhile when the son she thought was deployed overseas turned up to congratulate her in person as she walked across the stage.
Penny thought her husband would be presenting her with the pin, but it was Dustin who enveloped her in a hug, and presented the pin himself.
"I couldn’t even hear what [the presenter] was saying, I lost it," Penny told InsideEdition.com. "He was my rock through all this, we missed him a lot."
Dustin is a sergeant in the military, and has been deployed in Kuwait and Iraq for the last year.
"We missed my 50th birthday together; we missed his birthday together; we missed [his son’s] first birthday," she said. "There’s a lot to make up for."
When it came time for Penny’s graduation from the 20-month program, Dustin told her he wouldn’t be able to return home for several more days.
"I didn’t think he was going to be there," Penny explained. "When I called him before graduation, I cried on the phone. It was a lot of emotion."
Penny said she was all the more hurt, since Dustin had been her biggest supporter of returning to school for additional certification.
“He kept saying, 'You need to go back, mom. You aren’t getting any younger,'" Penny said.
Instead, Dustin had been home already for several days, staying with other family members who helped him plan the big surprise.
"I raised some pretty darn good kids," she said.