Taking pictures on the first day of school is a tradition many children experience every year. It might be annoying, but parents love to see their children grow over the years.
For one Texas teenager, the selfies she took with her mom on the first and last days of each year in high school were always a happy time. Through the years, Savannah Inthalangsy and her mother Phelana could look back at the photos and see themselves mature and grow older. Their wide smiles in every picture clearly show their close bond.
“I love tradition and I love to start new traditions and anything to get ice cream,” the John Horn High School graduate told CBS DFW. She plans to enjoy her summer and major in education at the University of Texas.
In the sequence of photos, as time progresses, the pictures evolve — not only does Savannah get older, but her mother experiences some changes as well. Sadly, Phelana is not pictured on the last day of her daughter’s senior year.
Savannah graduated from Mesquite’s John Horn High School on May 26. She will be attending Eastfield College in the fall and plans to transfer to the University of Texas at Dallas.
First Day of Freshman Year
The first day of freshman year, mom and daughter are holding ice cream cones. To keep the tradition, they each hold a sweet treat in every beginning and ending photo.
Savannah wasn’t shy about expressing her feelings to her mom. “I would always say we’re best friends and she’d say, ‘We’re not friends! I’m your mom. I can’t be friends with you!’ But I still think we were best friends,” she told WFAA Dallas.
Looking Forward to Graduation
Savannah and her mom planned a Hawaiian-themed graduation party with family and friends.
Savannah Looks Older Each Year
Phelana worked at a day care, and Savannah plans to follow in her footsteps and become a teacher.
Looking Closer, Her Mom Changes, Too
Phelana was battling ovarian cancer through her daughter’s high school years but had outlived her doctor’s expectations.
Phelana Lost Her Hair During Chemotherapy
In the middle of Savannah’s high school career, her mom underwent chemotherapy. But Savannah remembers her mom never stopped smiling — not even when she lost her hair.
“All throughout her cancer, she didn’t really cry or get upset in front of other people about it,” she said.
Senior Year Celebration
Senior year, Phelana saw her daughter take her senior pictures in her cap and gown.
Savannah at Her Mom's Graveside
Sadly, 45-year-old Phelana passed away before her daughter’s graduation from high school. Savannah decided to uphold the tradition and took a smiling picture with matching Starbucks cups at her mom’s graveside.
Savannah tweeted her pictures over the years. The post received 114,000 retweets and 578,000 likes by her graduation day. “I feel really supported. It boosted me,” she said.
She said she doesn’t know how or why the post went viral, but she’s happy it did.
Savannah said that her mom would probably joke about being famous and that her mom loved posting on Facebook.
Chiming in With Similar Stories
Twitter users reacted with their own stories of losing their moms. Some wrote about how they missed their moms during certain specific occasions.
Internet Encourages Savannah to Stick With Her Dreams
Savannah is planning to make her mother proud.
“She never got her bachelor’s degree to teach education, but she was able to teach at day cares, and I always said that I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree, and I always said that I loved education, too.”
Like her mom, Savannah stayed strong in the face of Phelana’s serious illness. She was excited about graduation.
“It didn’t feel like school was coming to an end, but I think tomorrow it’s going to hit and I’m going to probably be a little emotional,” she said.
Strangers Have Savannah's Back
Even strangers on the internet are touched by Savannah’s story and are rooting for her success.
Although her mom might not be around anymore, Savannah definitely would have made her proud.
Savannah Inthalangsy never thought a silly tradition with her mom would attract so much attention. She now has a record of her close bond with her mom to enjoy forever. Phelana would certainly be proud of her daughter, just like everyone who heard her story is.