Father with cancer writes daughter 826 comforting notes on napkins

By Gina Masilotti,

In the past two years, father Garth Callaghan, 44, was diagnosed with kidney cancer twice, which he fought, and now he currently lives with prostate cancer. The kidney cancer no longer lives in his system, but the prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease and doctors have told him that he only has an eight percent chance of surviving the next five years of his life. With a daughter, Emma, in eighth grade, Callaghan wants to make sure he can continue to spread his fatherly love and advice to her.

People reports that Callaghan has been leaving notes on the napkins in Emma’s lunch box since she was in second grade. It is something that has become a tradition between the two. Callaghan’s one wish is that he can continue this tradition even after he’s gone.

Callaghan is creating his own mission to “Pack. Write. Connect” by writing 826 notes on napkins for his daughter so he can be sure she will have one every single day in her lunch box until she graduates high school.

Callaghan explained to TODAY.com that, “This isn’t a story about cancer, because any parent at any time could be hit by a car or have a heart attack. This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her.”

The notes started off as simple words or pictures, since Emma was so young when he began this heartwarming tradition, but have turned into notes of wisdom. He sometimes uses quotes from famous people, hoping that their words of wisdom will help guide his daughter while always reminding her how strong her father was, even if he doesn’t win this fight against cancer.

While these famous words of wisdom may be inspiring to Emma, nothing is more comforting than the ones he writes on his own, straight from the heart. He tries to mix it up because he realizes, “Sometimes she needs to hear that yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game, and that’s a Babe Ruth quote.”

Emma depends on these notes every day just as much as her father enjoys writing them. “I love napkin notes for a couple reasons, not just the obvious ones such as knowing my dad is thinking about me or learning new quotes,” Emma says. “I love them because they remind me not to take things for granted, because my dad started getting serious with them when he had cancer for the first time.” These notes help her feel closer to her father.

One of the most touching of his notes read, “Dear Emma, Sometimes when I need a miracle I look into your eyes and realize I’ve already created one. Love, Dad.” The rest of his napkin notes can be seen on his own personal website, napkinnotesdad.com, and social media sites Facebook and Twitter.

The inspiration for Callaghan’s goal came after he read an article on because I said I would, which is a non-profit group that stressed the importance of keeping promises. “That’s when I thought, I can write out napkin notes ahead of time, and have them ready if I can’t fulfill my own promise if something bad happens.”

He has written a booklet of all the notes he has already written and plans to release a second edition with all 826 notes. He hopes other parents can be inspired by what he does and make similar connections to their kids through his notes.

Photo Courtesy of Twitter



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