PLAINFIELD, Ind. — Tyler Wilson loved cake.
In 2015, the then 29-year-old had just completed his final year of training with the Franciscan Health Family Medicine Residency Program. He was set up to join a practice in Martinsville when he died unexpectedly.
Tyler's mother, Toni, works to remember her son each year. His parents got Captain America tattoos in honor of him one year because he loved superheroes. They also scattered his ashes in different places including Florida, the Grand Canyon, California and Mexico. Last year, during the pandemic, Tyler's mom and sister sewed masks and donated them to Franciscan Health in his memory.
So on what would have been Tyler's 35th birthday Sunday, Toni walked into the Plainfield Kroger to purchase a birthday cake since they always celebrate his birthday.
Toni also decided to purchase a cake for someone else in Tyler's memory. With it, she left a note reading:
Today is my son's 35th Birthday, his 5th one in Heaven. In his memory, I've paid for your cake. Please enjoy, make special memories and hug your children and loved ones tight. My son loved cake! Love Toni, Tyler's mom.
Before Toni even got home from the store, she got a message from a friend who saw a post about her letter on Plainfield's chatter page.
"I didn't even put our last names on the note...didn't expect any kind of thanks for the person. I just want Tyler to still be helping from heaven," Toni told 13News.
A woman named Carolyn Mick had received the paid-for cake and letter from Toni. She wrote on the chatter page:
Dear Toni.. you know who you are and I want to express how moved I am. This means so much that my husband and I cried together. With the turmoil of things going on it reminds us of what really matters LIFE!
Carolyn's cake was for her 50th birthday. Her husband was throwing her a party Sunday and the cake was meant for the celebration with family and friends.
Carolyn lost her mom three months ago and this act of kindness really touched her.
Toni was also surprised by how much her simple act affected others. She responded in the Plainfield chatter page saying:
I am so overwhelmed with emotion. I certainly didn't expect the recipient of the birthday cake I bought in Tyler’' honor to post a pic of my note! But WOW ... the beautiful and heartfelt messages from friends and strangers alike have sure touched my heart and made his birthday in heaven a blessed celebration of his life. Thank you all. May God bless you.
Toni might make purchasing a cake for someone else part of her family's remembrance of Tyler's birthday each year.
"It made our day as a family so much better. We miss him every day but to know that other people were thinking about him that day — complete strangers — and to be able to read all the beautiful posts was very uplifting for us," Toni said. "It's amazing. It's such a feel good thing. I thought I was doing something so small and insignificant the other day, just asking God that Tyler knew I did something for him like that, not expecting it to touch so many lives in such a positive way."
As for Carolyn, her mom's birthday is coming up, and she might do something similar to honor her mom and pay it forward like Toni did.