The Note

The Note

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

The Note

I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.
They have clung to me all my life.
~Abraham Lincoln

The small note is always with me. I carried it in my billfold through the Vietnam era, a terrorist episode in Italy, Desert Storm, Sarajevo, and the Balkan Conflict—every day of my thirty-six years in the military. It remains there still, folded in the same pattern as when I first placed it in my wallet many years ago.

I found the note on the desk in my room the night before I left to enter the military. My mother wrote the note on the reverse side of a sheet of accounting paper left over from the course I had disliked so much. I suspect she scribbled it quickly to make sure it was there when I returned home from one final night out with high school friends.

My mother was a wonderful writer, but possibly because she was hurried or distraught, the note is not particularly elegant or well written. It is, however, just right. At least for me, there was something about it—the obvious caring, the pride, the assured feeling that remained after reading it that, although I would be away from home, part of home would always be with me—that touched my soul from the first time I saw it.

The note reads:

I’m such a “cry baby,” but I want you to know even though we will miss you so much, we’re proud of you (no mother was ever prouder and more in love with their kids than I am of you all). I want you to be happy and I know you will like the Air Force and do a good job no matter where you are. No matter where you are the same God watches over you and cares for you.

It is always the going away that is the worst.

You will make friends though and with your work—that always helps.

We love you.


The note was twenty-five years old when my daughters left for college. I made copies of it and sent it to them. I hope it evoked the same feelings in them that it did in me.

Over the years, I have taped the note together several times where age and wear have otherwise separated it along the folded creases. I take it out and re-read it on April 28th of each year, a small memento of things worth remembering. On the most recent “anniversary,” I taped it together again and placed it back in my billfold, where it will always remain.

~Tom Phillips

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