LEWISVILLE – Frankie Sprabary visited with family and friends outside the auditorium at Lewisville High School. She hugged old friends and new.

It’s not quite graduation season just yet, but the high school is having one anyway. And Frankie is also ready for the big day.

“Today is one of the most wonderful days I’ve experienced in my life,” said the 88-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. “I’m delighted that the school has taken so much interest.”

It’s been decades since Frankie has stepped inside a high school, let along seen her high school yearbook. And she’s been waiting 70 years to do one thing – graduate.

“I hope that I can be relieved of the burden that I’ve carried all these years having not graduated from school,” she said, before putting on a burgundy cap and gown.

In 1946, Frankie and her then boyfriend turned husband, was hit by a drunk driver on their way home from the movies. The crash left her homebound and unable to finish her senior year. The couple later married, had 4 kids, and traveled the world while her husband served in the Air Force. The Sprabary’s eventually moved back to Texas in the late 70’s.

After her husband died in 1976 from a heart attack, Frankie went to work assisting kids that were home-schooled. She was a self-taught artist and even a trained opera singer.

“Students, and Mrs. Sprabary this includes you,” Principal Jeffrey Kajs told a packed auditorium electrified with laughter and cheers. “Today is about never giving up.”

The time had finally come for Frankie to receive her diploma. With her youngest son, Paul, at her side, Frankie made her way to the stage, wearing a wide smile.

“Mrs. Frankie Charlene Lester Sprabary,” Principal Kajs announced, and the room erupted with applause.

“I had no idea she had not graduated from high school,” Paul said, adding that he heard about it during a recent family dinner. “I could hear the pain in her heart when she was talking about this.”

So he called the school thinking he would get a diploma that he could frame and give her.

“I’m proud to be from Lewisville, Texas,” he said. “And I am so excited for my mother.”

Following the ceremony, complete with Pomp and Circumstance Marches played by school’s band, she made her way out of the auditorium down an aisle lined with students cheering her on.

“Thank you, my best wishes to all of you,” Frankie said. “It means everything, it’s one of the happiest days of my life.

What was once a dream deferred, is now a dream come true.