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. —Lee Ballantyne
He was at a restaurant by himself for the first time since his wife of 43 years passed away when Lee Ballantyne, 65, of Barrie, Ontario, decided to do something that would make his wife proud.
Ballantyne had been watching another couple while he ate, and they reminded him of him and his late wife, who had died a week earlier, so he decided to do something for them.
A friend of the waitress, who helped Ballantyne deliver the note, posted the napkin on the social sharing site, Reddit, with the caption saying: "A friend had a customer leave this to the couple next to him tonight, and pay for their meal."
On the napkin, that has now gone viral, Ballantyne wrote: "Tonight I dined alone for the first time. You remind me of us many years ago. Please allow me to buy your dinner. Enjoy!"
The note continued to explain that this act of kindness is just the kind of thing that would make his late wife Carol happy. Ballantyne wished the couple a Happy New Year and ended the note by asking them to pay it forward.
Ballantyne expressed his astonishment that the world has now seen his letter in an interview with "Today."
"I just wanted to write what I felt at the time, so I scrawled it on a napkin," he told today.com.
"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."
Lee's son, Jason Ballantyne spoke with MSN about his parents who were high school sweethearts and had three sons and five grandchildren.
"I know my mom would be tremendously proud," Jason told MSN. "My parents had a very special relationship."
As the image has spread across the Internet, many have commented on Ballantyne's touching story.
"That's incredibly sweet. Such a nice gesture and a great way to honor his wife's memory," one Imgur user wrote.
"Even in his time of sadness, he does something so kind," another commenter wrote. "Bless you, Lee. Carol must be so proud of you. God Bless."