She missed 7 birthdays with her mom. See the heartwarming way she made up for lost time.

Watch the unforgettable celebration Patricia threw for her mother, then scroll down to see how this wild week came to life.

Since Patricia moved to the United States nine years ago from Costa Rica, she hasn't been able to see her extended family as much as she wants.

She's been with her husband, David, for eight years, and together they have a 6-year-old son, David Jr. But except for the two of them, Patricia has no family in the United States.


David Sr., David Jr. and Patricia near their home in New York. Images via Delta/YouTube.

"Everybody is [in Costa Rica]," said Patricia. "My mom, my sister, my brother, my other brother, my younger brother, my cousins, aunts, uncles, my dad."

In fact, Patricia's family has never met her husband and only met her son once on a short trip a few years ago. She keeps in touch with her family via phone, Skype, and e-mail, but being far away remains a challenge, especially for Patricia's mom, Carmela.

"It's hard," Patricia said. "It's hard for everybody, for her, for me, for my son."

Patricia entered Delta's My Next Trip Back contest with the goal of making up for lost time.

As part of the contest, Delta asked for story submissions to be considered. She described how she hoped to win and return to Costa Rica to celebrate her mother's birthday — not just once, but SEVEN times. She wanted to throw parties for each of the birthdays she missed after moving to the States. And what better way to celebrate her mom and bring the whole family together?

The magnet on Patricia's fridge reads, "Missing someone?"

Just weeks after hearing the ad for the contest on the radio, Patricia was thrilled to learn she'd won.

Delta flew Patricia and her husband and son to Costa Rica...

...where her very happy family met them at the airport.

Except for Carmela. Patricia saved the biggest surprise for her.

While the Delta crew interviewed Carmela in her kitchen, Patricia and her family waited outside.

When the time was right, it was up to David Jr. to pull off the big reveal.

Carmela was beside herself. Hugs, tears, smiles, and a few more hugs for good measure. This was the homecoming Patricia had dreamed about.

Now that the surprise was out, Patricia and her family could get to the business of celebrating their matriarch.

With plenty of confetti...

...silliness...

...fireworks...

...and cake.

Lots and lots of cake.

And while seven parties is enough to make any mom feel like royalty, the real gift for her was having her family together for the first time in a long time.

Carmela and David Sr. dance together at one of her seven celebrations. Photo by Patricia Rios, used with permission.

Carmela had grown up without much money, and after raising a family of her own, she wasn't accustomed to being the center of attention.

"My mom [felt like a] queen," Patricia said. " She is our queen, but she [thinks] 'Oh it's for me? Just for me? This music is for me? I've never had something like that.'"

And coupled with the chance to reunite her family for an unforgettable celebration? There's just nothing like it.

"For us, it was a miracle," said Patricia. "It was a dream."


Or maybe, just maybe, it was a wish coming true.

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