Before he deployed to Afghanistan, Sgt. Philip Gray sat down and wrote 270 messages for his daughter—one for each day he would be away. His notes for Rosie, 7, encouraged her to do her best at school and excel in her activities and hobbies. He also added drawings, like pumpkins on messages that were to be delivered around Halloween.
His wife, Kristen Gray, told “Good Morning America,” “He was very big on feel-good words for her and girl power,” and “He made sure to tell her how smart she was, and run fast in P.E., and things that would really make her happy.”
Philip Gray left home on Oct. 7, 2019, and while he was away, Kristen put his notes into daughter Rosie’s lunchbox. He returned on Aug. 8, three days before Rosie’s birthday, the little girl still wants him to write her special messages. Gray said to “Good Morning America,” “Stepping out of quarantine and getting to see the girls, that was the greatest thing.”
It’s the simple things in life that make us feel genuinely loved and valued so much. Simple acts of kindness will add up to a lot, and that was definitely the case with this family.
Philip Gray would leave his wife and 8-year-old daughter for a 270-day tour so he wanted to leave something memorable for his lovely little girl, Rosie, at his wife’s encouragement.
What’s the gift about? It was 270 handwritten notes on index cards, one for each day he’d be gone, to be put in Rosie’s lunchbox one by one.
“He wrote anything from, ‘You are super girl’ to ‘Smiling makes everyone else smile,’” and “He was very big on feel-good words for her and girl power. He made sure to tell her how smart she was, and run fast in P.E. and things that would really make her happy.”
There are some that Rosie got were like: “I love you so much,” “Be a mermaid,” “We are a family of awesome,” and “When you get home, have a dance party with mommy.”
Many of them included drawings, and Gray thought that completing the batch took him maybe a week of writing 30-40 pages per day. Because of his line of work, he missed a lot of the major holidays, leaving those little reminders was hugely noteworthy.
Philip Gray said during an interview on the “Kelly Clarkson Show,” “We miss, you know, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s,” and “I just made it back three days before her birthday this year, so that was a big plus.”
Gray’s wife said that leaving small notes isn’t rare for him. When he learns he’ll be out for a spell, he always leaves small messages for her to find.
“Actually, before we were even married he would leave some little notes for me whether it was — just like in the kitchen or next to the bed, but especially after we had Rosie and he would go away for training, whether it was like days, weeks, months, it always came at just the right time.”
“We’d find something just to make us smile. He would just always think of these little things to write, and just leave a happy note.”
Rosie showed her “favorites” when asked which were her best. “Always smile. It makes everyone else smile,” “Have a great day bug” and “Love you.”