Posts Tagged ‘Wyngate Elementary’

Thank God for Mrs. Fitz

I have no idea how far along into my life I am. I could be halfway. I could be a third of the way. But I already know that when I look back on my life, it’s going to be the people I remember. The people who made me better, made my memories full and improved the quality of my days. Yesterday, I lost one of those people.

No one knows what to expect on their first day of school. You may not remember yours, but I do. I remember I wore a rainbow colored dress that my mother knew was my favorite. I remember the color of my backpack, the details of that morning like it’s a captured moment I can glance at in a frame.

I remember fumbling trying to tie my shoes that morning and the feeling of stepping onto that big yellow bus for the first time. I knew it was an important day, but I had no idea how important. That day — my first day of first grade — was when I’d meet Mrs. Fitzgerald.

I didn’t know that day Mrs. Fitz, or Fitzy as we came to know her, would walk with me through the rest of my life, serve as my Confirmation sponsor, my secret keeper, my sounding board and my friend.

In truth, she was the first person outside my family to make me feel special. I made her laugh, and she lit up my childhood.

She was there for everything: My siblings’ birthdays and mine, religious ceremonies, graduations and recitals.

Fitzy was always excited for you and about you. With her hair pulled tight into a ponytail, never without a bow, Fitz seemed to know the key to everyone’s heart.

As a teacher, she was always in a bright sweater, surrounded by dye cut-outs of simple lessons and the stuffed animals lining her reading corner. She was all of those wonderful and sentimental things, but she was also honest. And her honest, unexpected moments were her best.

I found Fitzy’s honesty most helpful when updating her on my life. She gave great advice, especially on love. She taught me how to hold myself to the highest standard, but to have fun while doing it. To give yourself a shot, a break and a fair chance at anything you wanted. She led by example — approaching life with enthusiasm and a huge smile and I think her attitude rubbed off on me more than anyone could possibly measure.

She knew what she wanted in life and who she wanted to spend it with. I met Mr. Fitz when I was 6 years old when I fell for the completely believable story that he was the classroom mailman. He’d bring Mrs. Fitz flowers and coffee and I started to think, even at that young age, that Mrs. Fitz should consider giving the mailman a chance. Turns out, she already had. There is no question how important Mr. Fitz was to his wife, who never called him by his first name. Always, Mr. Fitz.

On my winter breaks from college I’d visit for birthdays, and find my bright poinsettia or silly trinket was no match for the huge bouquet sitting in the middle of the classroom from the mailman. Mr. Fitz knew what he had and she loved him very much.

I have a million little memories with Fitzy. She’s such a special person, I wish I could remember every single thing she’d said to me because I know it would help guide me in the future. But I have the teddy bear she gave me after I begged and begged, the pictures in my mom’s photo album of all our adventures, the songs I’ll sing on St. Patrick’s Day that she taught me and I’ll always have her in my heart.

She was a great teacher. She was an incredible friend and a downright wonderful person who left this earth a “bazillion” times better than she found it. I hope that my kids have a teacher in their lives who helps them discover the fun in the everyday the way Mrs. Fitz did. I will miss her very much. So I’ll end as she ended every letter — with a smiley face. 🙂

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06 2013