My favorite teacher passed away today. He was diagnosed with cancer last fall, and just barely made it past his original prognosis before succombing to complications.
I got to know Terry Tucker when I was in ninth grade, and my friends and I decided to take a clog dancing class. Our high school had a dance team called Cloggers West, and we were eager to join this team, which had already earned the distinction of "age division world champions" at the world clogging championships in Fontana, North Carolina. I remember being elated that we were able to join the "farm team" in our sophomore year in high school, in the hopes of being selected for the real team as juniors and seniors.
I was chosen. My best friends were chosen. A really awesome guy named Jared was chosen. Our days of practicing, performing, touring, and competing were tiring but fun. Mr. Tucker taught us so much, and coached us well to strive for excellence. I choreographed a routine for the group one year, and last fall he made it a point to thank me for that long-ago contribution. He said that the group continued to open their shows with it for many years. To this day I remember the music (Foggy Mountain Breakdown) but I have very little memory of the choreography. (Darnit! I wish I had a videotape!) But anyway, he was always so positive and appreciative of any little thing that we did, and he always encouraged us to be our best.
He also let me sing in the high school choir. That awesome guy, Jared, sang there, too. Many of my friends did, too. Jared sang in the bass section, and I was an alto. I am still an alto. Jared is a bona fide first tenor.
I am ever grateful to Mr. Tucker for helping me cultivate talents that are still a joy to me, and for giving me activities that fostered some of my most treasured relationships. I married that awesome guy, Jared. My "gaggle" of high school girlfriends are all from choir and Cloggers West. I still have my competition trophies and pictures of those fun days. I still have my dance partner, and we love singing and dancing together. I am so glad that I thought of Mr. Tucker when I visited Utah last fall (before we knew he was sick), and he was kind enough to come and see our Evening Song choir performance on Temple Square. He kept thanking us for things that we did for him, when in fact he was the one who deserved the gratitude.
We graduated from high school more than two decades ago, but the positive ripple effects of this great teacher's influence will continue to bless our lives.
A long time ago I mentioned a poem that a friend shared with me, and I think it is very fitting for this great teacher and friend:
So let me live that when I die
A tear will come to every eye.
In every heart there'll be a spot,
An empty place where I am not.
So let me live that when I'm gone,
Kind thoughts of me will linger on.
And folks will say with grief inside,
"I kind of wish he hadn't died."