Garth Callaghan, 44, conquered two rounds of kidney cancer before being diagnosed with prostate cancer. His oncologist has told him he probably has an 8 percent change of surviving the next five years.
And with that in mind, Callaghan made a promise. Inspired by the group, Because I Said I Would, a nonprofit advocating for keeping promises, he made a commitment to continuing writing a note to be placed in his daughter’s lunch until she graduated from high school, even if he wasn’t around to write them.
“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 told Today.com. In total, it adds up to 826 napkin notes.
#BecauseISaidIWould I will write 826 Napkin Notes for Emma. pic.twitter.com/V2wO3uf7Q0
— Garth Callaghan (@wgarth) January 3, 2014
“This isn’t a story about cancer, because any parent at any time could be hit by a car or have a heart attack," he said. "This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her.”
From her perspective, Emma loves the tradition.
"I love napkin notes for a couple reasons, not just the obvious ones such as knowing my dad is thinking about me or learning a new quotes,” she said. “I love them because they remind me not to take things for granted.”
Callaghan has started a website and Facebook page to help other parents connect with their kids. He's also created an e-booklet that includes many of the messages. (Note to other parents: He doesn’t mind if you crib from his napkins.)
He plans to publish a second edition with all 826 of the promised notes.
“I wrote an epilogue to it,” he said. “It basically implies that I expect to be around long enough to write my grandkids napkin notes.”
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