This article originally appeared on 03.30.16
Dalton Ross wanted to make sure his family didn’t miss him too badly while he was studying abroad in London.
To help them cope, the 22-year-old Tennessee native did what any selfless college student would do: He sent his mom a life-size cutout of himself.
“I thought maybe they’d put it in the living room corner until I got back to remember I exist,” he explained about the cutout, which came with a short note: “You’re welcome.”
But like any clever mom, Susan Talley couldn’t just stash this amazing piece of work away when it arrived about two months ago.
No, no — she had better plans in mind.
Talley decided the cardboard version of her son could be a great companion “while the real one is in Europe.” So she brought him along with her to events, like basketball games …
… trips to the doctor’s office …
… and sub sandwich runs.
Fake Dalton celebrated Valentine’s Day with a fellow inanimate object.
He enjoyed playing with a furry, four-legged friend in the sunshine.
And he appreciated a good bedtime story, just like the rest of us.
The photos of fake Dalton are spreading like wildfire.
Without showing her son the photos first, Talley went ahead and uploaded them to Facebook. And after Dalton shared them on Imgur — explaining his mom “seems to be entertaining herself” while he’s gone — the story sent the Internet into a buzzy frenzy.
“The attention is crazy,” Ross told Upworthy, noting the story has gained so much traction that a restaurant featured in one of the photos, O’Charley’s, sent the family a gift card.
“I hope my mom’s holding up all right,” he said. “It’s awesome though.”
Fake Dalton has been to the batting cages …
… taken in some city nightlife …
… and celebrated Easter with his family.
Although the viral reaction to the photos has been a bit nuts, Ross isn’t all that surprised his mom was up for a good laugh.
“Oh yeah, my mom is very funny,” he explained to Upworthy. And it’s a good thing, too: Laughter can be a great tool in improving the quality of family dynamics and boosting a loved one’s emotional health. (A student studying abroad should especially keep that in mind, considering being away from loved ones and familiarity can be tough.)
“We’re a big family of jokesters.”
Bravo, mom, for setting the bar very high ahead of April Fools’ Day.