I generally can’t stand Facebook anymore. For so many reasons. And yes, I realize the irony that I’m sharing this blog post on Facebook. But I am so I can share about my recent experience with a rare positive, thanks to this most popular social media platform.
On my author Facebook page, I received anotification that I had a message on a post from 2015. It was a photo of my father holding my hand when I was a little girl on the frozen ice field of Webster Lake in Massachusetts. It was likely some January in the latter 1970s.
The note posted to my photo was from a man who was trained and mentored in the culinary field by my father many (many) years ago. I remember this man because my father liked him so much, and he had visited our house. He was young and had orangey-red hair and a mustache.
The message said that he had been looking for my father for many years and came across my post only to learn that he had died over 20 years ago. He seemed a bit emotional about it, and I suppose that would make sense since he just learned it. Back when my father died, at the age of 51 in 1996, he had been out of the culinary arena for several years and had long lost contact with this man once he moved away. Because my father passed when average people weren’t using the internet, we had no idea how to find him to let him know.
He told me that my father had been a tremendous influence on him in his early years, helping him and mentoring him toward becoming a chef and culinary artist. While they had only worked together for 6 months, my father’s impact on his career was profound. He also appreciated being exposed to our family and how my dad was as a husband and father. He carried my father’s life and career lessons with him into his own life and work, and is now a highly successful, award winning chef and culinary artist who will be representing the United States next year in international competition. He credited my father with sewing all the right seeds in his work, and in 2017, just learned that my father has been gone for many years. He even referred to crediting my father at an award presentation in 2005.
But that is legacy…and it is a lesson for us all.
No matter how big or small of a life we live…no matter our station or status or success….someone, somewhere, is carrying on a legacy we know nothing about. It’s quiet and often unheralded but no less profound. Sometimes, it’s just a simple act of kindness toward a stranger.
When we lose someone we love, it helps those of us left behind – even 21 years later – to hear these priceless stories and insights from those whose lives have been touched. So, thank you to Chef Pat Mitchell, top in his field, no doubt blazing his own legacy through kitchens all the world over. It’s been a rough couple of years, but it’s nice to be reminded that those who loved us never really leave.
Thanks for reading.