Tennessee woman gets 21st birthday surprise from dad 5 years after his death

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Maryville woman received a surprise from her father for her 21st birthday, five years after his death.

Flowers and a note have arrived in the mail, for the last five years, on Bailey Sellers’ birthday.

Her father, Mike Sellers, was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer in 2013. A month before his daughter’s 17th birthday, he died.

“I dropped out of high school and became homeschooled so that I could take care of him,” said Bailey Sellers. “So that my mom could work to take care of us. I spent every waking second with him. I only left his side at 11 at night.”

Now, on her birthday milestone, her last bouquet of flowers and last note arrived. This one, different than the rest. A reminder, they’ll meet again.

“When I opened this card, I especially felt him with me. It’s a cold feeling, then a happy feeling at the same time,” said Sellers.

The note, written before his death, went along with the prepaid arrangements, set up with a flower shop without his daughter knowing.

“I used to dread my birthday every year because of it. It makes me think of him even more. But at the same time, it makes me so happy knowing he loved me that much,” said Sellers.

Sellers says this year, she didn’t expect a longer letter. Usually, the card was short, “Happy Birthday, Love Dad.”

Thinking back to his first diagnosis, she says, she’s now grateful she had the time to spend with him.

“It was hard. It was very very hard on me. I’m really glad that I did drop out of high school and become homeschooled, I would’ve been more upset,” said Sellers. “I would’ve watched him get sicker and sicker. It was happiness, but it was a mix of happiness and sadness. Because he wasn’t suffering anymore.”

Now, she’s studying psychology at East Tennessee State University. Inspired to do so because of her own depression after her father’s death. She hopes to help others and to eventually go to grad school at the University of Tennessee.

She says her dad would be proud.

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