Dad Leaves Lunchtime Notes

A Dying Father Leaves a Lifetime of Notes

A Dying Father Leaves a Lifetime of Notes

Once in awhile, parents slip a special note into their child's lunchbox to wish them a happy birthday or good luck on a test. Garth Callaghan never needed a reason to write to his daughter Emma, who has been receiving his lunchtime messages since kindergarten. Today, however, there is a purpose to writing what he refers to as "napkin notes." Garth is currently living with prostate cancer, a slow-growing diseases with a slim survival rate. Worried that cancer will take him too soon, Garth has written Emma enough notes to fill the rest of her school lunches.

"This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her," he told

Garth set a goal to write 826 notes — one for each lunch until Emma graduates high school — after reading Because I Said I Would, a social movement dedicated to "bettering humanity through the power of a promise." Currently, he is 40 notes short of his goal. The prewritten notes are part of a "just in case" pile, which he keeps in his home office. In addition to this secret stash, Garth writes a new note every morning to put in that day's lunch. The napkin notes alternate between legitimate letters to Emma and borrowed words of wisdom.

"I try to mix it up, because frankly, sometimes she needs to hear that yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game, and that’s a Babe Ruth quote," Garth says. No matter the message, Emma appreciates her father's efforts.

"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 told "I love them because they remind me not to take things for granted."

Take a look at some of Garth's most memorable napkin notes, which he shares on his Facebook page and blog, The Napkin Notes Dad.