Garth Callaghan is on his third battle against cancer since November 2011. The 44-year-old Virginia father fought off kidney cancer twice, but doctors estimate only an 8% chance that he will survive this new battle with prostate cancer. Preparing for the worst, he's making sure that his daughter Emma will still hear his voice just in case.
Callaghan has committed to write 826 napkin notes to go into Emma's lunchbox every day for school. A napkin note is what it sounds like, a brief message of inspiration written on a napkin. He varies his messages, from a Biblical reference, to a drawing, to a quote from Mark Twain or Yoda. The figure of 826 represents the number of school days Emma has until she graduates from high school.
Callaghan was inspired to start the project after learning about 'because I said I would', a non-profit organization that emphasizes the importance of making a promise.
"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," Callaghan told TODAY.
Every morning, Callaghan writes a new napkin note, and he has only about 40 notes left to reach 826.
Emma cherishes the daily reminders from her father and tries to save at least one a week.
"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, because my dad started getting serious with them when he had cancer for the first time."
Overall, Callaghan sees his commitment to write notes for Emma as more than just a project for the dying. This is an opportunity for us all to learn something, Emma most of all.
"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."
See some of the napkin notes Garth Callaghan has written for his daughter Emma, and SHARE this inspiring story.