Dying Dad Writes Over 800 ‘Napkin Notes’ To His Daughter To Ensure She Never Has To Eat Lunch Without Him

Creative Director
01.27.14 16 Comments


Garth Callaghan has been diagnosed with cancer three times — prostate cancer once and kidney cancer twice. Recently told he was “high risk” by his oncologist, Garth asked what exactly that meant.

“You’re going to die of this,” the doctor responded.

Jarred by those words (statistics say the 44-year-old has just an 8% chance of living another five years), Callaghan has taken an extraordinary step to make sure he sees an important family tradition through to the end.

Callaghan has been slipping “napkin notes” into his 14-year-old daughter Emma’s lunch box since she was in kindergarten. Each morning he writes a few words of wisdom, an inspirational quote, a heartfelt personal anecdote, or one of those simple little pick-me-ups that every daughter needs from her dad.

Garth recently took to the promise-making/keeping website Because I Said I Would to vow that his daughter would never go a day at school without one of his notes:


“I will write 826 Napkin Notes for Emma!” his hand-written card reads. That figure would take her all the way through her senior year of high school, should Garth not make it that far.

As of this weekend, Garth had already completed 740 notes. Only 86 to go. Here’s his growing collection of finished napkins, followed by some great examples of the notes Emma receives:



Dear Emma,
Everything in moderation. Except Awesome. you can never have too much Awesome.
Love, Dad


Dear Emma,
Sometimes when I need a miracle, I look in to your eyes and realize I’ve already created one.
Love, Dad


Do or do not. There is no try.


Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
-B. Franklin

You can follow Garth’s progress on his website (Napkin Notes Dad), Twitter, and Facebook.

The Napkin Notes Dad via Because I Said I Would & Times Dispatch

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