A few years ago, Natalie Coffey Bunting, 41, received a text message from her 70-year-old father, Charlie Coffey, which immediately brought her to tears.
Charlie lives in Hickory, North Carolina, with his wife, whom he has been married to for over 50 years, and their many dogs and cats. Although he may be surrounded by love, he misses his daughter, Natalie, of course – whom he only sees two or three times a year. “It’s very difficult for him that we live so far apart,” says Natalie.
Natalie didn’t really think about it when she called her father years ago to say hello. He didn’t answer, so she left a voicemail saying she loved him. However, she had no idea that her father would keep the voicemail and listen to it at least once a day for the next few years.
One unlucky day, however, Charlie accidentally deleted the voicemail on his phone. Then he sent Natalie this heartbreaking text message:
“Natalie, I’d kept one of your voicemails for over two years. All you said was that you loved me. I usually listen to it about 20 times a week. When I listened to it this morning and got a call, I accidentally deleted your voicemail. I’m devastated. I want the message back. Will you call me and leave me a new message saying you love me?”
Since then, Natalie shares the exchange every year on Father’s Day on Facebook.
Thanks to the power of social media, the text message ended up on a popular Facebook page, after which the viral message received more than 72,000 likes and was shared 11,000 times in just two days.
“You’re a great daughter,” wrote a Facebook user. “I just went through something like this when my grandmother died and I found her voice on my phone. I cried for an hour.”
“I got tears in my eyes from this,” wrote another. “How fortunate to have a father who loves you so much!”
Natalie was shocked by the reactions that followed the exchange. “Everyone thought I was very lucky to have a father like mine. It made me realize that I take him for granted, because not everyone has such a good relationship with their parents.”
For the curious among us, Natalie left a new voicemail for her father. “When I finally stopped crying, I called him and said, ‘Don’t answer it now, I’m going to call you and leave a new voicemail,” Natalie remembers. “Then he had to cry, too.”
“He cries very often,” she lovingly added.
“I’ve always kept the text message,” Natalie said. “I’ve had two new phones since then, and I always made sure I wouldn’t lose the text.”
Natalie hopes that people who read her story will remember this message: “If you love someone, tell them. You never know when you’re gonna lose someone.”