According to an article in Today, the notes to Emma began with symbols, since she couldn't yet read, and over time have evolved to include inspirational quotes of his own as well as those from the likes of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Dr. Seuss.
Now in the eighth grade, Emma started penning a few notes of her own: for her 44-year-old dad, who has fought kidney cancer twice in a matter of years, and now has prostate cancer.
But he insists his story isn't about cancer "because any parent at any time could be hit by a car or have a heart attack. This is really about leaving a legacy so that she can understand some of my life philosophies and how much I love her.”
Just 40 notes shy of his goal of writing 826 napkins—one for every day until his daughter graduates from high school—Callaghan is all about following through with promises.
The notes are safely kept on an indexed spreadsheet. And Emma's friends now count on the notes as much as she does.
"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.”
A compilation of the napkins
is available in a booklet via Kindle and Amazon.
As for Callaghan, he doesn't plan to give up his napkin habit any time soon. “I wrote an epilogue to it,” he said. “It basically implies that I expect to be around long enough to write my grandkids napkins notes.”