Many years ago I had a roommate in our Quality Hill apartment while we were going to school in downtown Kansas City.

Many years ago I had a roommate in our Quality Hill apartment while we were going to school in downtown Kansas City. His name was Darryl Gerstner and he was from St. Joe, one of the best friends that I have ever had. Several other friends and I from those years drove out to Goodland, Kan., one weekend to participate when Darryl and Reeny got married.

Of course, they went off to start a life together and that was the last I saw or heard from them, until recently. Somehow, they picked up my email address off of the Internet and suddenly from out of the blue I received an email from them. Boy, what a treat that was, and we kept in touch on a regular basis for about a year. However, one day Reeny sent me a shocking email of Darryl’s obituary.

In some follow up correspondence, Reeny mentioned that it's the silly little everyday things she misses most about Darryl, such as hearing the garage door open as he came home, and his great humor that we all loved.

After reflecting on her words, I was reminded of a very special teacher I had back in high school many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with our classroom. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down.

With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Class is over. I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important. Each of us is put here on earth for a reason, to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.”

With her eyes beginning to water she went on, “So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the 'stuff' of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted.”

The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.

Take notice of something special you see today. Go barefoot, or take a walk at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get an ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do. So please, have a great day and may God bless.

Portraits of the Past - Volume Five, a collection of the stories and artwork from this column has arrived and are available at the Examiner office, 410 S. Liberty, and at the Blue & Grey Book Shoppe, 106 E. Walnut, two blocks south of the Independence Square.

To reach Ted W. Stillwell, send an email to or call him at 816-252-9909.