ARCHDALE, N.C. – Cindy Pulliam says she's accustomed to having an empty seat at her table on holidays.
Her son, a sailor in the Navy, recently returned from deployment overseas and is stationed in Norfolk, Va.
"It upset me that he was on the ship for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with no family. We’ve not had him home since he joined the Navy on Christmas or Thanksgiving,” Pulliam said.
It's why she became emotional when her son Logan surprised her Christmas Eve at their Archdale home.
Pulliam said she knew that her son's work schedule changed at the last minute, but that she wouldn't be able to get him home on short notice.
Her friend, Sandy Reid decided to step in. She made the 10-hour round trip, knowing how much it would mean to Pulliam.
"I honestly did not know that I had a friend that thought that much of me, but she knew that I wanted that boy home,” Pulliam said. "It meant the world to me, I’ll never be able to repay her for that.”
Pulliam added that the gesture went beyond any gift she could have gotten, saying that it's been challenging since her son first left.
"It’s never easy, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life was watch him walk away with that blue bag, get on that ship and I didn’t know when I’d see him again,” she said. "Not knowing when you’ll see them again, how long it’s going to be before you even speak to them. It’s hard.”
Pulliam said that her son would be returning in several days for his originally planned visit.