Thomas Verne Fulton

June 15, 1944April 14, 2021

The Coffee You Won't Get to Drink (A Reflection On Dying)

by John Pavlovitz

Seven years ago my parents went on a cruise to celebrate my father's 70th birthday.

My family and I happened to call them just as they were sailing away. We could hear

the ship's booming horn blasting out as we quickly wished dad a happy birthday and

them a wonderful trip and told them to call us when they were back in port.

They spent the next few hours exploring the ship, having a birthday dinner, and then

they went to bed, excited for the week ahead of them.

The following morning, my mother had gotten up early and snuck out of the room and

went down to the cafe to get coffee for them, so they could enjoy the morning view from

the balcony. Just as she'd done countless times over their nearly five decades together,

she made his coffee just the way he liked it. When you've been with someone most of

your life, these things are part of the muscle memory of your relationship.

When she got back to the room she was surprised that he was still asleep, and after setting

the cups down on the side table, she said, "John, get up. I got us some coffee."

When he didn't stir up right away, she assumed he was playing. "C'mon, get up!" she said

louder and with a smile.

He didn't move.

She went to rouse him awake and when she touched him she realized he was gone.

He was cold.

A couple hours later when news reached us and I was able to get her on

the phone, she told me that story through tears, and the world I knew

when I went to bed the night before (much like hers) caved in a tidal

wave of emotions and questions and thoughts flooded in and altered my

life irrevocably.

One of the images that flashed in my mind that morning and has

remained to this day, is of that cup of coffee sitting just a few feet from

my father's body, coffee that was lovingly made for him, coffee that he

would never get to enjoy, coffee that went cold.

I wondered how long it sat there on that table, if it was still there long

after they'd removed him, if anyone even noticed it, if my mom had

thought about it.

Every day that full cup of coffee reminds me of the way death interrupts

our plans without warning. It leaves so much unfinished.

When my father took his last breath, there were so many things that

were now forever undone: activities he'd planned for the ship the next

day, flights back the following week, business trips he'd scheduled after

he got home, golf outings with friends, meals with my siblings, retirement

plans, and a billion infinitesimal decisions and intentions that were now

permanently incomplete.

That sunset became my father's last.

That dinner became his last.

That phone call became our last.

The hug I gave him in the airport three months earlier became our last.

The goofy voicemail he left me a week ago became his last.

That after-dinner coffee became his last.

I know he could never have dreamed on that Friday night, that this would

be his final cup of coffee in his 70-year journey.

I'm sure it never entered his mind.

Had it, I know he'd have savored it.

He'd have drank it slowly and let every sip be a celebration.

He'd not have taken it for granted.

He'd have paid attention to it, to everything around him, to my mom and the

people with him, because the finality would have demanded it.

If only we could know when we were experiencing the last occasions and

the last moments with people when we were, so that we could give them

the gratitude and reverence and joy they deserve.

We would live differently.

We would be more attentive.

We would be more present.

We would be more alive while we are living.

Friend, you will do things today that appear quite normal: perhaps things

you no longer notice or that you take for granted or even that you are

annoyed by because they seem like burdens: tasks and activities that

seem so mundane and uneventful---but only because you're so used to


It's so very easy to assume that you will get to do them all again or

experience them again or see people again, but you may not.

This may be your last cup of coffee,

you last night sleeping next to your beloved,

your last family dinner,

your last time embracing your child,

your last little league game,

your last dog walk,

your last kiss,

your last sunset,

your last breath.

And since few of these moments will come with a message telling you this,

do you best to linger and enjoy and celebrate them all.

One day there will be a cold cup of coffee that you will not get to drink.

Savor the one in front of you.

Savor every breath.

After reading this narration, my mind turned to Tom's last morning at our house. Part of his early a.m. routine was to bring in wood for the fire we would have that evening. Now lying in the fireplace are the carefully arranged logs, unburned, ready for the fire he wouldn't get to enjoy.

Rest in peace, my love, rest in peace.



No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Thomas Verne Fulton

have a memory or condolence to add?

Myra Dupaski

April 30, 2021

I began seeing Dr. Fulton about 40 years ago. He was a terrific chiropractor and a unique man. I was scheduled to see him just an hour after he was taken to the hospital. I can't believe that he and I won't be sharing any more of his silly jokes. The angels will be sharing them with him now. My heartful thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Paula, if it helps, he thought you were a terrific wife.

Shelby Smith

April 25, 2021

Dr. Fulton and I met before I was even born. My mom was about 1-2 months pregnant with me when she started seeing him 25+ years ago! I started going to him about 10+ years.
Dr. Fulton was full of stories, witty comebacks, and random calendar facts. I always enjoyed the stories of his wife and their walks together while finding loose change and who could find the most that day. One of the last visits with him he showed me pictures of where he grew up at, how he use to help his dad with cars and explained what all the other businesses were.
It was always nice to hear Dr. Fulton or Dawn answer the phone.
Dr. Fulton will be missed, our condolences are with his family.

Sue and Tim Whiting

April 24, 2021

Oh my, Tim and I stopped in our tracks with shock and disbelief when we received the letter from the office yesterday. We were both there to see him last month. He would always tell a joke or two and he always kept me up to date on Dr. Turner. Our family trusted in Dr. Fulton from day 1, Close to 50 years ago.

He always knew when I needed an appointment that it was a dire emergency! He just went with the flow, got me better and knew I would return sometime. Always kind and passionate with a special smile, he really listened and cared and fixed you.

This world is going to miss the good man he was. Paula may God give you strength in this time of pain and sorrow, you were his light! God speed Dr. Fulton, we will miss you greatly...
God Bless
Sue and Tim Whiting

Kerry Stadtfeld

April 23, 2021

I am in a state of shock over Dr. Fulton's passing. I have been going to him since he first took over for Dr. Turner who was in the same building, probably 40 years ago. He was so healthy, I thought he'd be there my entire lifetime. He often told me he'd never retire. I will deeply miss him and his firm handshake and warm smile, whether it had been two weeks or two years, he was always delighted to see me.

He always loved my Dad's classic cars, and the day of Dad's funeral he parked his old Dodge out by the street as a warm gesture while we drove by. He truly meant so much to me and also to my Mom & Dad before that. I will miss him greatly and always. My deepest condolences to his wife too.

Cindy Walters

April 22, 2021

My condolences to the Fulton family. Doc touched the lives of so many, physically, and emotionally. I heard patient testimonies daily on how much he helped them. Doc's energetic attitude, funny jokes, stories, kindness, even his old fashion approach to everything will be missed. I will always think of Thursdays as Martini day.

Linda Butler

April 22, 2021

My heart is breaking for the family and friends of Thomas Fulton ! I was a patient for over 5 years and I always enjoyed seeing Dr Fulton. Our sense of humor was very similar and he loved to tell his jokes to me. He will be truly missed. So sorry for your loss Paula. He spoke of you often.

Larry Woods

April 22, 2021

Tom was a true friend that I'll never replace. We spent decades over lunch at the Columbia Club with others. He and I began our friendship at the Indianapolis Athletic Club and subsequently would share common conservative views, mostly apart from the Democrat persuasion of the IAC. I kept up to date with his beloved "Old Dodge", which was a never ending labor of love. Monday lunches would start with the results of his and Paula's Sunday walk and how much lose change they'd competitively find and tabulate. Additionally, there would always be stories of his racquet ball contests with Joe Marbaugh, which included Joe's lack of ability to subscribe to conservative perspectives. I will miss you Tom, more than I can express.

Mike Gehrich

April 19, 2021

Tom was a great friend and mentor for nearly 30 years.

Always positive energetic and genuinely happy to see you and learn about what had been going on in your life.

He had a wit that was lightening fast and he loved to tell and hear a good joke and some not so good one's too.

My thoughts are with Paula and his family during this difficult time.

Lacey Walden

April 18, 2021

A patient of Dr. Fulton’s for 20+ years and my heart broke when I heard the news. His humor and personality was his best! I loved hearing his stories about his Sunday morning walks with his wife and finding loose change. He was an incredible doc and sure gonna miss calling the office to hear Dawn or his voice. Dr. Fulton you will be truly missed and there is no one else out there like you. Every once in a while throw a penny down from heaven as a reminder you are still cracking jokes :)

Kristie Smith

April 17, 2021

Dr. Fulton was one of the best employers I have ever had. I adored him like family. My condolences go out to the Fulton family and his current employees. I will forever miss his humor and smile. God bless him.