Today I had the opportunity to say goodbye to a family friend and community icon. Beth Hyatt, along with her husband Dr. Herman Hyatt, have been staples in the San Jose area for many years. Doc Hyatt is, and has always been larger than life, one to take on any challenge and succeed at it, and has influenced the lives of countless young men like me. Even at the funeral while he was dealing with his grief, he complimented me on my attire. “I learned it from you”, I told him, and his response was what you would expect from Doc, “You know it!” Some of you reading this might think this was arrogance, but it wasn’t. It was just Doc. You’d have to know him to understand (and once you know him, not only would you understand, but you wouldn’t want any other response from him).
Beth, on the other hand, showed quiet strength. They were definitely two halves of the same coin. Both strong, intelligent, influential forces to all they encountered, but how they approached their strength was reflective not only of the people they were, but the people they would touch.
The funeral was an appropriate celebration, with lots of good memories of how they poured out into the community, and how they supported each other. What was interesting to me was how everyone that spoke couldn’t speak of one without the other. Not that their life and marriage was perfect, but if I could strive for anything, their example is definitely on the list.
In the eulogy, the pastor referred to “them” as the “Mother Teresa” of the AME church. What an appropriate title, as they have spent their lives giving to the poor, the outcast, the unwanted, and not out of a since of pity, but out of pure love. They didn’t just give “to” people, but they gave themselves, and made anyone and everyone part of their family… literally. They weren’t “church” to the world, they were love. Person after person came up and said that they wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Doc and Beth, and those were not just platitudes… they were in the practice of saving lives through real love, one life at a time, and not seeing people as projects, but lifelong relationships of love.
As I reflect on my own life, I wonder if I would have that same testimony from others… If I have gone the distance in loving others, in making a difference in the lives of those around me… I wonder what it would, or could look like to live such a life… I wonder what the world would be like if even a few more people would strive to live in this way…
So here’s to you, Beth Hyatt. Thank you for your life that continues to live on in so many, including me. You displayed a good life and great example, and because of that, you will never be forgotten.