BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. -- Among the graduates at Gardner-Webb University Monday was Dolly Wilson, who was going to receive her Master's degree in nursing.
It would be a proud day for the 58-year-old single mother who had raised four children and adopted a fifth. She had made peace with the fact that her two sons -- who are both in the Air Force -- would not be there.
Or so she thought.
As Wilson marched in with the other graduates, her two sons -- Jeremiah Wilson, 29, and his brother Joshua Wilson, 36 -- were in another wing of the hall, in full uniform, tucked away in an office with the door closed.
"Last time I saw my mom was when I cam home from Afghanistan," said Jeremiah.
Added Joshua, "I think she is an amazing woman."
As the time came to hand out the diplomas, Dolly's sons were led down a back hall that brought them out on the far side of the stage, still out of sight of their mother.
When she was handed her degree, she looked across the stage and there they were.
That is when the tears of joy started to flow.
"It meant the whole world to me," Dolly said after wards. "I had no idea that they were going to be able to make my graduation."
As for any immediate plans, Dolly, who was still stunned to see her boys, said, "I have no idea. Just hold them, because both of them have been in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Her sons each have a week before they have to return to duty -- Jeremiah in Arizona and Joshua in Alaska.
They plan to spend as much time as they can just being with their mother.