Deep in the dark of the night I awoke to a faint scratching sound.
For a long time, I've wondered how my phone cord ended up behind my night stand.
Then the cat started to meow. Apparently, this is her nightly ritual, and this particular night she had gotten stuck between the door, wall and bedside table.
I pulled her out, scratched her chin and placed a hamper in the way so she couldn't get behind the door again.
A few minutes later, I could hear scratching from underneath the bed. With one eye open and the other buried in my pillow, I watched my phone slide across the table before the plug popped out and fell to the depths.
Then the scratching stopped. Before I went back to sleep, I jotted the moment down in my phone.
When I first started writing this column, my daughter would ask, "What story are you telling the newspaper today?"
Four-plus years and 238 columns later, I haven't run out of ideas.
But time has changed, and I've chosen to move on from the newspaper. This column will be my last.
For years, I have kept a long, running list of notes on my phone.
The first "Editor Dad" note reads, "sink donut, onesie." That was my first column, a tale of inhaling a powdered doughnut over the sink to de-stress from spending 10 minutes trying to properly button up my newborn daughter's onesie after a diaper change.
Now, she is in preschool.
My latest note reads, "olive oil, beer, potatoes … dumb cat unplugging phone."
Every time something good or bad or funny happens in my life, I jot it down.
I've kept all of the notes despite the fact sometimes I'd be well into a new column before realizing I already covered the topic; like when my daughter put a soup bowl on her head to celebrate successfully using a spoon for the first time.
The best thing this column has taught me is that I'm not alone. Though the setting and characters are different, our experiences are shared.
When I wrote about my wife and me changing our daughter's stinky diaper in midair while trying not to touch anything in what had to be the most disgusting bathroom in the world, I heard from several readers.
"Oh, I've totally taken my son in a bathroom like that," one reader wrote.
When I wrote a tale of my daughter dressing herself in two tutus and every necklace she could find, a number of readers sent me hilarious photos of their own kid's fashion choices.
Columns about death, whether it be a good friend of mine or our beloved pets, always were met with kind reader notes and stories of how they dealt with their own difficult times.
It's good to know you aren't alone.
I once told a tale of my little one having a meltdown in Target. The stories readers shared with me made me cringe so hard I ended up under my desk. But I felt much better about my own experience.
I have received a lot of unsolicited advice over the years. Some people were happy to point out poor grammar, which I always tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to find helpful.
The best advice, though, and the thing 90% of readers and family have shared with me: "Time moves fast. Enjoy every moment with them."
When my first daughter was born (before I started this column), so many people said that to me, I had a canned reply in my back pocket: "That's good advice," I'd say. "I am going to jot that down."
Take care of yourselves, and read to your children every night.
Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @DaveManley