I've been thinking a lot recently about how insignificant actions can have a way of becoming really and truly significant farther down the line. Two days ago, I got an email from a woman in another state telling me that she had got my husband's potato soup recipe off my web site in 2002. She said she had just got around to actually making it, and she said it was the best potato soup she'd ever had. (I had warned people that this would be the case when I posted the recipe.) She said she wanted to print out a new copy after making the soup, but she'd splashed water on the bottom half and it was illegible, so she went online thinking she'd go right to it – but alas, I'd taken my web site down. She searched around and found it (it's now here) and that's when she saw my note that Bob had passed away. This lovely lady emailed me to tell me she wanted me to know that people are still enjoying his recipes. She'll never know how good that made me feel.
But when we posted his recipes, it was almost trivial. I was updating my web site, and he was looking through his recipe files on his computer. He had the idea that I should post the potato soup (since I'd made such a big deal about it, even taking a picture of it – it really was THAT GOOD), so he dictated and I just wrote down what he said. A few days later, he made something else yummy and I suggested we put up a whole section of my web site with his recipes. He had such fun with those – he took such earnest pleasure in getting the wording just right, just like in a professionally-done cookbook. And he really puffed up when I told him months later that his recipes were getting most of the hits on my web site – from all over the world! A few people even emailed me to tell me how good they turned out.
But it started with just a Saturday afternoon's whim, and a little time on our hands. The lady's email the other day got me to thinking about all the people, all over the world, who have found, and made, Bob's recipes over the years. They're on computer files and in recipe card books and tucked inside cookbooks in maybe a hundred countries, maybe part of hundreds of families' standard rotating menus. Even if, generations from now, someone asks Grandma, “Where'd you get that recipe?” and Grandma says, “Oh, I got it off the internet honey,” and no one knows anything about my Bob – a little part of him will still be living on.
On one of our vacations in Minnesota I took a picture of him sitting on the porch of our cabin. I don't remember taking the picture, and I'd forgotten about it entirely until his sisters and I were looking for photos for his memories board for his funeral. His sisters both said, “That's a great picture, let's put that on it.” And I looked at it, and it took my breath away. His sister said, “That really caught him – the orneriness, the humor, and the kindness.” It was a few minutes before I could even answer, because she was so right. There he is. And I don't even remember taking the picture.
You can't go through life thinking every single thing no matter how tiny, is going to end up being really important, to you or someone else, some day. You'd go crazy. But wow – it really is true.