WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE FOR BEVERLY HIBBETT FEBRURAY 8, 2009
I Corinthians 13: 4-8a,12-13 (edited Feb 14/ 09)
I know each person here has experienced Beverly in your own and unique way. I know I speak with a personal bias toward her. But these observations are very real and I think worthy of reporting. I saw her demonstrate consistently Continuous Spiritual Growth, Remarkable Courage and Enjoyed Love. I wish to mention some of the inner dynamics out of which she was the optimistic, upbeat, exuberant person that many of you know.
Continual Spiritual Growth: To understand Beverly's extraordinary spiritual development one needs to know that at age 5 she was severely burned over much of her torso. The hospital barely allowed her parents to visit her. She never got to see her twin. So she experienced extreme emotional stress. This trauma showed up in her early twenties as severe, paralyzing anxiety attacks. This was anxiety that threatened to stop one's normal living. People did not understand it and one's fate was to suffer silently. Attending church was one of the most panic threatening situations for her. But even there she was a welcoming, creative effective teacher of small children. We were both overwhelmed with her fearful secret. This beautiful young sensitive person was early on no stranger to harsh suffering. But always a positive-thinking fighter she kept asking, studying, praying , seeking counsel and practicing every coping skill imaginable. She successfully gave devoted mothering to three beautiful children. She could do most of this at home where she was relaxed. Gradually she began to win the battle. She gained an edge over the problem and her life began to expand.
Such an experience can lead one to search for every possible emotional and spiritual resource. And to question what one has been taught about spiritual matters. For Beverly this included the meaning of common Bible themes and some of the religious interpretations she had received. On several occasions she read thoughtfully the entire Bible. She seemed to have a more determined interest in it than her preacher husband. I saw her suffering and joined her in much of her spiritual journey. Beverly always affirmed that she is a Christian for the story of Jesus is the spiritual path that she was given and from which she found her way. She said it also though led her to a broader view, that some individuals are given other paths that lead to the same kind of spiritual truth. Her basic belief became that, “God is alive in every person, even ones who are not considered religious, and that we are all , along with all of nature, connected as one. She said that discovering this, to her, is what the Bible calls the ' pearl of great price', ' a treasure hid in a field', and the 'love' that every person is here on earth to discover.” This hard-won, simple, yet profound faith she ardently sought to practice the last decades of her life.
Remarkable Courage: When the anxiety was very strong every step out of her home took raw courage. As her life unfolded she demonstrated courage time and again. She eventually went back to kindergarten teaching. Most parents considered her an unusually skilled and caring teacher. While teaching she decided to attempt to fulfill her long time dream of teaching dance. She studied, trained, marketed and built up a full class of Aerobic Dance in a church gym. This required physical and mental preparation weekly. She loved it and stayed in great shape. Again,with no guarantees, she resigned her teaching career and launched, with Nancy's help, a brand new business: Message Therapy. So now she was bringing physical comfort and healing to many who were in serious chronic pain. She was kept busy also at every family gathering. It took significant courage also (at least I hope) for Beverly to discuss with me that it was best, for complicated reasons, that she and I consider living separately. Eventually we both painfully agreed to divorce after 35 years of marriage. Her insight was correct and that difficult change only cemented our friendship. How deeply I am missing our conversation, our planned trips to see family and our experience of being supportive of each other's pursuits. Cancer began to threaten her nine years ago. The little girl who learned to be very afraid of hospitals summoned courage , went through three surgeries, radiation and chemo and a trip to Mexico for treatment.. She was thoroughly courageous ,even smiling, to the end. And she departed in the devoted care of ones who love her as deeply as she does them.
Enjoyed Love: One religious scholar defined mature human love as the 'experience of fully enjoying the presence and being of another without the need to control or possess.' This became the hallmark of Beverly's life. Beverly and her twin Barb have been the objects of each other's love all their lives. Barb, with Milt, has been by Bev's side during the most trying times of her illness right to the end. I am so delighted that our three children fully experienced how deeply she enjoyed and delighted in them without controlling or possessing them.(Well, she may have occasionally slipped a tad into the controlling part but, she had so taught her kids that they would quickly, and with good humor, nip that in the bud. She once proudly mused, 'you know, my kids don't take any crap off of me, do they? I'm so glad'). I'm perhaps even more grateful that Beverly knew how much each of her children adored her. And that perhaps each of them had already moved to experiencing her not primarily as 'mother' but as 'good and loyal friend.' It was so obvious that Bev thoroughly loved and enjoyed her family, friends and associates. I'm confident they felt her love coming from her face, her words, her eyes and her hands.
A final capstone in her evolving spiritually courageous life was falling in love with another family. She calls them her 'adoptive family.' They are Nancy and her children Drew and Anna. To them Beverly is Bevie which became for our granddaughter Jordan- Grandma Bevie. Beverly's family was surprised when this basically shy person expanded her love to another family as well. She has brought us together as an extended family for these last years of her life in the most amazing and loving way.
Conclusion: To those knowing her most intimately, Bev's life has been an amazing story of spiritual growth, remarkable courage and most importantly of enjoyed love. And her legacy to each of us is a strong encouragement to follow our own paths and find our unique expanding selves as well. I am so thankful to have been a best friend of this amazing child of God for 46 years. She taught me so much and propelled me to learn far beyond what I ever imagined. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to her. Jim Hibbett