Robert Hyde: Saying Goodbye
David Van Wyk
I am sitting in a Huddle House in
Initially, it is difficult to believe that a man like Robert Hyde would come from a place like this, but as I look around, I can see it. We come back to the places we have run from in one way or another, and somewhere in the midst of competing auto-parts stores, family diners, country churches, and kudzu, Robert’s body will be laid to rest this afternoon.
His friends are coming from all parts of the country to this place, one where we have never been and one to which we’ll likely not travel again.
I met Robert a few years ago when
he joined our faculty at
Robert was the first foreign language teacher to go through the Blackwater Writing Project, and, in the course of just a few weeks, he was integral to our community, releasing Pooty-Tang on our Blog and in his creative writing—much to Latahshia Coleman’s chagrin. He was gleeful and creative. His last email to our staff of directors, labeled “Apologies,” read: “I am sick, very sick with fever and shortness of breath. I will have tests run on me today. I am sorry for missing class.” We didn’t know. Donna Sewell mailed him a care package from all of us, and we ordered him a T-shirt. But I will not remember him this way.
More than any of his other accomplishments, his kids loved him and would have followed him into hell had he asked that they accompany him. Only a handful of teachers that I have ever known have achieved that sort of cult following: Duane Tony and Brad Riner are the two who come readily to mind, but Duane has since disappeared into the mists of Thailand, and Brad has gone over to the dark side of the administration. Brad will be here today. I am glad of that. I don’t know that any of us from Robert’s other world will be able to convince his family or his friends of the magnitude of impact
on our lives and the lives of the kids in our community, but at least we can be here and speak mutely.
After the funeral this afternoon
and as I head down South 231 this afternoon and eventually back to
 Otherwise known as the French language.