It's tough for military families to stay connected, especially during deployment. But one father wanted to make sure he'd be able to say goodnight toÂ his son every night while he was goneâand he came up with a very sweet way to do it.
Air Force Maj. Steve Dillenburger took 190 Hershey's Kisses and put them all in a jar. He left them for his 3-year-old son, Sean, and told the little boy he could have one piece of chocolate for every night dad was away. SteveÂ was in Kuwait from mid-April to the end of October, when he returned home to Annandale, Virginia.
"It was just something sweet at the end of the night and a reminder that [Steve] was thinking about him and loves him," Sean's mom, Mary Ellen Dillenburger, told TODAY.
Steve got the idea for leaving Hershey's Kisses from a friend in the military who did the same thing with her own son. This was also the first deployment for Steve since Sean and his 1-year-old sister, Ann Marie, were born.
Before Sean went to bed, he would eat a Hershey's Kiss and then brush his teeth. So he wouldn't miss a day, he took the jar with him on family trips to four other states.
Sean was excited for the sugary treats, but he was more excited as the jar started to have fewer and fewerÂ Kisses. With each passing day, Sean had a visual reminder of when his dad would return home.
"Finally about a week out or so I said, 'Daddy's coming home soon,' and then we started crossing off the days and getting excited," Mary Ellen told ABC News. "We were able to drive up and wait for him at the airport."
At the airport, Sean ran right up to daddy and gave him a great big hug. At the moment, Steve doesn't have a new deployment, so now he and Sean are enjoying as much father-son time as they can.
"He's so happy daddy's home," Mary EllenÂ said. "He misses the chocolate kisses, but he's more happy that daddy is home."