For at least the last 37 years, my family has traveled to Estes Park in the fall. It is the time of the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park. The elk rut is when the bulls gather their herd, and bugle their mating call.

It is a great opportunity for all of us to get together, as a family, play silly board games and just enjoy each other.

This year, just before the trip (Oct. 2), Tom Petty passed away. For those of you who do not know Tom Petty, he was a rock singer who died way too young at the age of 66, totally unexpectedly. He had a profound impact on rock music. His death took the music world and his fans by surprise. I am one of those fans.

Tom had just come off a tour celebrating 40 years of his music. I heard an interview with him just after the tour (the tour had just finished a week or two before his death). He discussed the response he received from the tour. He felt like he received “a pat on the back” from the crowds, as well as other musicians, which was something he did not anticipate. He was humbled and surprised by everyone’s reaction.

This is coming from Tom Petty, someone greatly admired in the music industry — someone so greatly admired but still humbled and inspired by a pat on the back.

We go through life with people who are important to us. They are not just the “Tom Petty’s.” They are the fathers, siblings, children, co-workers, employers, friends, spouses or whomever, that greatly affect our lives — sometimes every day. They taught us through words or actions; they inspired us; they set examples; they were there when we needed them. Somehow they positively affected our lives, the community or the world.

Have you told them that? Have you told that coach, friend or co-worker how fortunate you feel to know them; that they have positively impacted your life?

I had a math teacher, Terry, who was a wonderful teacher. He was a good guy, a new teacher with a new wife and child, and he inspired me almost every day.

I never told him that.

Sometimes I joked about him, because I thought I was clever, but he deserved to be told he was a good man and great teacher. I regret I did not tell him that.

Do not presume someone knows you admire them. Sometimes we all need a pat on the back — even Tom Petty.

This year’s trip to Estes Park will always be distinguished as the Tom Petty trip. We listened to his music, mourned a little, argued about which songs were the best, and just let Tom know we appreciated him and the effect he had on our lives. It even led us to share how important we are to each other and how we treasure our time together.

Reach out to someone today and let them know they are appreciated or important to you, or even just encourage them. You might change their life, and you will be glad you did.

Randy Clinkscales founded Clinkscales Elder Law Practice in 1985. He is a 1980 graduate of Washburn Law School and has represented clients at the administrative, county, state and federal levels.