Dear Mr. Fullington,
I attended your memorial service tonight. April met me so we could attend it together. Sadly, this was not the first memorial service I’ve attended in the Erwin High gym, but I definitely smiled more tonight than I did in 2000.
Hundreds of people gathered to honor you. They didn’t let you down. I kept hearing what we all knew. You were a kind man, with a great sense of humor, a great teacher and you loved your family and your students. Music also kept popping up. The Beatles played in the background, and Mr. Johnson led some of the choral students through “Let It Be,” one of the several times I felt myself tearing up.
Isn’t it a little ironic that one of my favorite classroom memories is when we worked on the poetry unit and had to analyze our favorite song lyrics? I don’t think it’s weird that I am obsessed with lyrics these days. I find it entertaining that I now write a lot about music.
Mr. Voyles did such a great job talking about you. Sure, he choked up a couple of times, but we expected him to. It’s tough to lose a great person.
You were a great friend. I remember we bonded over Buffalo, NY. I couldn’t remember exactly why until tonight. You were born in Orchard Park and I know exactly where that is. A New Yorker transplanted in Asheville. Just like me!
“All We Need is Love” was played a couple of times tonight, and someone said that every time we heard that song we’d think of you. It’s funny, but I used to only think about my wedding when I heard that playing (since we did play that in our recessional) and now it’s kind of bittersweet for me.
You know I only half thought I was too good for your class. 🙂 You knew me better and I’m glad that you pushed me to be a better student and didn’t put up with my attitude, because many people know I can be pretty difficult.
I kept thinking about all of the times I saw you around Asheville. At the school when I was covering a story (or just when I wanted to visit), at Jack of the Wood during a game of Quizzo, at the Grey Eagle or just walking down the streets of downtown Asheville. I remember our last conversation in September. You’d never heard of Ari Hest and I told you that you wouldn’t be disappointed. I hope you weren’t! We talked about our careers, my husband’s career, you retiring in the near future and you gave me advice for my husband and his teaching career. I’m glad that he was able to meet you. Everyone should have had the pleasure of being in your presence at some point in their lives.
I’m not surprised to hear that you never lost your wit and sense of humor once cancer got the best of you. That cancer. I hate it. It takes away the best people.
Thanks for taking an interest in everyone you met. Thanks for the immersion into music. Thanks for the talks about colleges and running and music and careers and life.