Word puzzles are a big thing for me. Not in an obsessive way, but in a constant-presence, continual-joy sense. I look forward to getting the New York Times in print each weekend, mostly for the puzzles, and like many, I enjoy the various games on their website, and on Puzzmo, too.

Friends got me back into the weekday crossword a few months ago after many years away. Once I got the hang of completing them online, I was hooked; I don’t think I’ve missed a weekday in two or three months. No complaints.

I do the crossword because my awesome high school English teacher, Ms. Kastner, used to give me a photocopy each morning in senior English, from the stack the teachers made for each other. I got so into it that one day she called on me, I had no idea what was going on, she challenged me why not and I said “because I was doing the crossword!” and that was good enough for her.

Ms. Kastner was my teacher three times in four years and stands out as a favorite; she was warm, funny, hip (she called me Werty! in class!) and loved to teach. Her influence on me is significant, from the crosswords to a college degree in English to an appreciation of Shakespeare, debate and solid grammar. My kids’ love of word puzzles traces through me right back to her.

All of which is background to last week, when I logged onto Facebook to check my birthday messages and found this from Ms. Kastner.