Ever since I met Bill and Martha Minahan 21 years ago, I've had tremendous admiration for their commitment to promoting organ donation and their unparalleled love of baseball.
I was drawn to the Minahans in 1992 because they could boast of having seen a game at every major league field. With Bill benefiting from a kidney transplant, the couple remained engaged in the pursuit, making it a point to visit new ballparks every year one opened.
They loved the game and they loved each other. I so appreciated how Bill, a former Jesuit High coach and athletic director known as "Wild Bill" for his spirited pregame pep talks, seemed to reel in his personality to earn Martha's affection.
He presented an example of how a husband should care for his wife.
But I never told him that.
Then there's Janet Moucha, who never hesitated to call the Riverview bureau if she had a problem with the Times or an announcement to get in about her daughter Susan or her beloved Nativity Catholic Church.
If we failed to deliver Janet's paper or allowed it to get wet, she would ring my phone, wanting to know why she had to call our offices in Tampa or St. Petersburg to get another paper delivered.
"I want to talk to someone in your office," she would lament.
Eventually, the conversation would ebb and flow into politics or religion or today's youth. She shared how her daughter Susan, a substitute teacher, encountered a few unruly kids and how young men disappointed her when they allowed their pants to sag below their waists.
I once spoke to someone at Nativity about an issue Janet raised. I said, "Do you know Ms. Moucha?" She said, "Yes, we definitely know Ms. Moucha."
We looked at each other and smiled.
Janet delivered a lot of feisty comments in a tell-it-like-it is manner, but truth be told, I so appreciated our amusing and entertaining conversations.
But I never told her that.
In 2002, I helped Todd Williams share his rags-to-riches story with Times readers. In part because of the death of his grandmother, Williams found himself on the streets, leading a crime-filled life.
"I was headed down a ridiculous path," Williams said. "When you don't believe you can make it, it's hard. It was easy to go that way. If I hadn't turned my life around, I would have ended up dead or in jail. It was the Lord who helped me turn things around."
Williams eventually got back into high school, starred at Bradenton Southeast and earned a scholarship to Florida State, where he would go on to help the Seminoles win a national championship and earn a degree.
I so appreciated his story. His struggle minimized the problems I dealt with every day. His triumph inspired.
But I never told him that.
Bill Minahan, 84, and Janet Moucha, 86, died on Dec. 30. Todd Williams, 35, died Jan. 6, just hours before his beloved Seminoles would play for another title.
Each of these deaths reminds me that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
So we all should take the time to share our appreciation with family and friends and acquaintances and maybe even strangers.
We can't underestimate the power of heartfelt words, or the senselessness of keeping them to yourself.
That's all I'm saying.