Widower’s generous gesture goes viral
CREATED Jan. 15, 2014
A touching good deed by a recently-widowed man meant to benefit just two people has instead touched the hearts of thousands.
The Canadian man, 65-year-old Lee Ballantyne, was dining alone for the first time since his wife’s death when he spotted a nearby couple in the restaurant who reminded him of his late wife. He quietly arranged to put their tab on his credit card, and left them a handwritten note on a napkin reading: "You don’t know me, but my beautiful wife of 43 years died last week. Tonight I dined alone for the first time. You remind me of us many years ago. Please allow me to buy your dinner. It will put a smile on Carol’s face and make me happy—-for now."
As the Today show reports, restaurant employees posted photos of his note, and the story quickly went viral, “touching people around the world.”
Ballantyne told Today.com, “I just wanted to write what I felt at the time, so I scrawled it on a napkin.” He added, “It was just a simple gesture and it seemed like an ideal time to do that. I guess I had a selfish motive, I wanted to make myself feel good. And it did for a while. It still does.”
The restaurant owner, Lindsay Weiss, told Today.com the recipients of Ballantyne’s spontaneous act of generosity “were beyond touched and grateful. I cried. The waitress and chef cried. It was one of the kindest gestures I’ve ever witnessed.”
“Ballantyne was surprised to get a phone call later that evening from the diner who'd received his note,” Today reports. “The man thanked him for the meal and expressed his condolences, and said he and his wife would like to take Ballantyne to dinner in the near future.”
Ballantyne’s wife died Dec. 30 at age 62 following several years of declining health after battling numerous diseases, including lung cancer and lupus.
The photo of Ballantyne’s note has reportedly been viewed more than 800,000 times, and he says he’s grateful for the opportunity to share Carol’s memory with the world. Today quotes him saying, “My wife’s strength and joy of life is now known to millions of people just because of that gesture, so I accomplished something there. I’m glad people got to know a little about Carol.”