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Dad receives high school diploma 48 years later as a Christmas gift from daughter

Posted at 6:57 PM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 18:57:27-05

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. -- We see a lot of graduations right before Christmas, but they're usually at colleges.

But one Caroline County woman planned and attended a special high school graduation for her father that took place on Christmas Day.

"That emotion that I swallowed up inside. It was overbearing," said Hayward McWhirter.

Dad dipolma

Hayward McWhirter

The moment was 48 years in the making for McWhirter. Back in 1967, McWhirter decided to skip his high school graduation ceremony in Washington DC for personal reasons. After learning of this, his daughter Raina McWhirter came up with this Christmas present idea.

"My mind just started grinding," said Raina. “I've got to do something and I just thought Christmas would be the perfect time because the whole family would be together. Her father agreed adding, "this graduation, this time to walk, to walk with my daughter, my brothers and sisters, my grandchildren and friends, it was awesome."

Raina was able to track down her father’s diploma, high school yearbook, and also managed to obtain Hayward’s transcripts. While dad admitted to being a little scared to open the letter, in fear of looking at his grades. He wasn't hesitant to show his love and appreciation for the special gifts his daughter gave him on this holiday.

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Raina and Hayward McWhirter

"I had more (loved ones) attending this one and it was so emotional. It was so rewarding. It was fantastic,” said Hayward.

"If he had have done this back then I wouldn't have been there to see him get his diploma and I was actually able to present it to him. So that really, really, really made my Christmas for him," said Raina.

Raina also added that this Christmas is one she and her dad will never forget. However, she now feels the pressure is on because she doesn't know how she'll top this moment next year!