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"Magic Moment": Meeting Dr. Phil

Comics like to kid about men hating their mothers-in-law. But reality is often very different.

That's certainly the case for Lester Hope, who said he loves his so much that he wanted to help her realize her longtime dream of meeting "Dr. Phil" McGraw.

And, in the conclusion Friday of its weeklong "Magic Moments" series, The Early Show did just that — with a little extra thrown in.

"Me and my in-laws live within eight miles of each other," the Appomattox, Va. man says, "and we get along fabulously. I'm very fortunate that I get along with my mother-in-law. I mean, a lot of guys don't."

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Hope says he doesn't know how he and his wife, Cindy, would manage without his mother-in-law, Millie Budney. She regularly takes care of their daughter, while he works and Cindy is at school.

"My mother-in-law helps tremendously with my daughter," Hope says. "I'm very fortunate that … she's here to help us out with the child and other issues that come up in life."

Hope wanted to thank Millie for everything she does. So he secretly wrote to The Early Show, asking us to help him create a Magic Moment.

"She's always wanted to see the 'Dr. Phil Show,' " Hope says. "My wife and my mother-in-law talk about Dr. Phil all the time. They tape certain parts of it and, when they come over, they review it together. They say, 'Did you see this,' and, 'How's that working for you?' They just love him."

So, earlier this week, Millie was surprised by a phone call from a member of Dr. Phil's staff.

"Your son-in-law, Lester, wrote an e-mail to The Early Show asking that they send you all to Los Angeles to see Dr. Phil in person," the staffer said. "And we've decided to do that. So if you could pack your bags, you're going to travel today."

"I was surprised," Millie recalls. "I was. Because things like that don't happen to me."

Choked up, she hugged Hope, then began to cry.

"We love you," Hope told Millie.

"I know," she replied.

Within minutes, Millie was on the phone, telling her friends the news.

To one, she said, "I can't believe it! I'm going to see two things that I wanted to see before I die: the Pacific Ocean and Dr. Phil."

"I've been watching Dr. Phil from, probably, the very beginning," Millie explained, "because he's like me. He tells it as he sees it. He doesn't mince words. I love Dr. Phil.

"I'm very excited. This is a once in a lifetime chance, so I want to look nice!"

Then, it was on to Hollywood to see a taping of the show at Paramount Studios.

"I've never been to California," Millie said. "I'm really excited to see what all the fuss is about. I'm going to be nervous meeting Dr. Phil, but I think it's going to be exciting."

First, though, Millie, Lester and Cindy met Robin McGraw, Dr. Phil's wife.

"He (Lester) is a doll," Millie told Robin.

Then, Millie, Lester and Cindy sat in the audience during the taping of a Dr. Phil show.

"When that music started playing and he came out it was just ... You know, I just couldn't believe that I was six or 10 feet away from Dr. Phil. It was great!" she said. "You get caught in the moment. It is really exciting. I really enjoyed the show. It was a joy, it was a pure joy."

After the show came the moment Millie had been waiting for.

"Meeting Dr. Phil was one of the highlights of my life," Millie said. "I introduced him to my family and gave him a little advice!"

Turning the tables on Dr. Phil, Millie told him, "That stripper's husband — you have to straighten him out. He's too namby-pamby!"

"So this is the Dr. Phil and Dr. Millie show!" Dr. Phil replied. "She's going to get them straightened out!"

"That's right," Millie said. "We're going to straightened them out together."

After meeting the family and seeing how well they all get along, Dr. Phil offered a glowing assessment, saying, "My hope is that every family in America can have the warmth and relationships that these guys have. So, they're an inspiration to all of us. This isn't what we're always talking about on the show, but it's what we're striving for on the show."

The icing on Millie's cake was getting to see the Pacific, which The Early Show also arranged.

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