The Heartwarming 826 Ways 14-Year-Old Daughter Hears from Father After He’s Gone

The love between a parent and a child is absolutely unshakeable. This adorable sob story is proof.

Garth Callaghan and his daughter, Emma, shared a special tradition many parents share with their children: passing notes. Garth’s take on the practice is a little different. Since Emma was in kindergarten, her father would scribble little words of encouragement, loving reminders, or even simple drawings on paper napkins. The thoughtful little notes became an appreciated surprise in the the girl’s lunchbox.


Since then, Garth developed kidney cancer…twice. After the disease spread to his prostate, Garth began his third battle with cancer. Because of his previous medical history, the outlook on Garth’s future isn’t so great. His doctors gave a grim diagnose estimating the dad had an 8% chance at surviving the next five years.

The 44-year-old was devastated at the fact he wouldn’t be there for his daughter’s graduation, her wedding, or to meet his grandchildren. In spite of everything, Garth chose to see the silver lining of the situation.


“This isn’t a story about cancer…This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her,” the dad explains.

Garth’s solution to prepare his daughter for life without him? 826 handwritten notes, each with a unique story, piece of inspiration, or special message. And boy, is he organized. Garth keeps every paper napkin filed away, waiting for the appropriate moment.


“A good portion of the notes are literally just letters from me to her. They start out, ‘Dear Emma,’ and I say something, and then I say, ‘Love, Dad,’” he said.


The loving father also pulls inspiration from famous athletes, actors, or philanthropists to “mix it up.” He wants to guarantee she hears the “harder to accept messages” on her way to becoming a well-rounded young woman.


“…she needs to hear that yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game… and that’s a Babe Ruth quote,” Garth explained.


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Emma, now an 8th grader, has learned to love the notes as much as her father.

“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,” the young teen explained.


Garth’s specific goal of 826 special napkin notes was inspired by the 826 days his daughter has until high school graduation, an event he might not live to see. He’s nearly done, having only 40 more to go. None of them have actually made it the lunchbox yet. Garth plans to save the ones he’s already written for the “just in case” file. In the meantime, he’ll continue to write brand-new notes every morning.


Source: Today Show