Although Northcott's son, Dalton Jackson, was not scheduled to graduate from Halls High School for two more weeks, friends, family members and classmates gathered at Baptist Memorial Hospital on May 4 to hold a special early graduation ceremony.
Jackson, clad in his cap and gown, processed into the hospital's chapel as "Pomp and Circumstance" played in the background, and Northcott took the opportunity to impart some of the life lessons she had learned to her son and his friends.
"You'll change the world. You can do anything you ever put your mind to. Don't ever forget that," Northcott told her son through tears. "Follow your heart, don't follow others."
Over a chorus of sniffles, principal Suzanne Keefe presented Jackson with his diploma.
"I'm so happy!" Northcott exclaimed as the applause subsided.
Mother and son then shared a special dance to "I Won't Let Go" by Rascal Flatts, and Jackson and his classmates ended the ceremony with a traditional graduation cap toss.
Northcott passed away less than a week later, according to Facebook posts from friends. Family members are raising money through Paypal to offset the cost of her medical treatment.