The First Man I Remember, The Last Man I’ll Forget . . .A Love Letter for Dwight Hooker

The First Man I Remember, The Last Man I’ll Forget — A Love Letter for Dwight

29 December 2014

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Dearest Dwight,

At first light, I saw that my world was blanketed with fresh white snow. That’s what we need.

I remember being snowed in at Sundance while you studied for your architectural license exam. Like ET, we ate Reese’s Pieces, halibut with dill, and poppy seed bundt cake. We drank cherry Kool-Aid. We watched Cheers.

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For many, we were difficult to understand. But, like Tracey said, “You’re peanut butter and jelly. You’re Dwight and Julie. It wasn’t always perfect, but you made it work.”

My last message from you was on October 21st. You told me you were re-watching The Newsroom. I was doing the same thing.

I called to tell you what I wore on Halloween. Thank you for having costumes made for me to wear to school. Thank you for the framed posters. Thank you for funding my classrooms! Thank you for being proud of my career.

I told you about school.

I shared my gratitude with you on Thanksgiving.

As your wife, I learned to cook. One of the nicest compliments you ever gave me was when you said my Thanksgiving dinner was the best meal you ever ate.

I left messages so you would know that I watched The Newsroom. Now, I know you did not see the finale.

As I write this letter, I’m talking to you. In the final episode, Charlie Skinner died. He had a heart attack.

Charlie’s grandson asked Will McEvoy if his granddad was scared. All Will said was, “I wasn’t there.”

Then, they played “How I Got to Memphis.”

If you love somebody enough,

You follow wherever they go.

That’s how I got to Memphis,

That’s how I got to Memphis.

If you love somebody enough

You’ll go where your heart wants to go

That’s how I got to Memphis

That’s how I got to Memphis

Before Charlie died, he asked his grandson, a teenager, how he could sing about Memphis. His grandson explained that “Memphis is a stand in for wherever you are right now; it really means, ‘that’s how I got here.’”

You brought me to Memphis.

Leaving the wake, Will said, “Charlie Skinner was crazy. He identified with Don Quixote, an old man with dementia who thought he could save the world from an epidemic of incivility simply by acting like a knight. His religion was decency. He spent a lifetime fighting its enemies. . . so this fight is just getting started because he taught the rest of us to be crazy, too. . .You were a man, Charlie. A great big man.”

Dwight, you are a man. A great big man. Your religion is decency. You are gracious. You are my best friend. You are my hero. You are the great love of my life. You are my soul mate. You are my cheerleader. You are my champion. You taught me that everyone does what they do for their own good reasons. You loved me.

One of my friends peeked on the other side a few years ago. She is not Mormon. It wasn’t weird Mormon heaven that she saw. (By-the-way, I’m seeing The Book of Mormon musical at Capitol Theater in August. I remember going to the theater with you. I remember going to the theater with Tommy.) It was just the other side.

You told me that you weren’t afraid to die and that, in a way, you looked forward to it, because then you would know what Tommy experienced.

My friend told me that her experience showed her that, “once it comes, we are really free to love. “ She told me that you can hear me and you are, once again, free to love me.

When Dan Melnick insisted the guest house be finished, we stayed at Sundance. One night, we drove to town in the yellow Toyota. We ran out of gas. It was bitter cold and the wind howled like a pack of coyotes. A couple stopped and pushed us up the hill to the Chevron. That night, when I snuggled against you, you told me, “That was really dangerous. People die in weather like that.”

Dwight, I was never afraid with you. You are a great big man.

(Remember when Dan Melnick interrupted Christmas because he couldn’t put a roll of toilet paper on the holder? Remember when he gave us “designer” watches? Remember how much Penny loved the caviar he left? )

I remember, Dwight. I remember everything. I remember Dan Lunt saying, “the further I get from my church, the closer I get to my God” at a Pot Roast and Prozac dinner.

I remember sitting in our condo watching OJ’s white Bronco chase. I remember sitting on the sofa at Sundance watching the verdict.

I remember you pouring orange juice into the crockpot with the pot roast. I remember putting sliced bagels in the oven.

Today, I listened to Aspects of Love. How many times did we drive to and from Sundance listening to musicals in the silver Subaru? You are the first man I remember. You are the last man I’ll forget. Love does change everything. You changed me. I will make you proud, Dwight.

For my entire adult life, I memorized your stories, your history. They are ours. You told me about Bernese Mountain Dogs. When Faith came, you worried because you knew their life expectancies were short. Please don’t worry. When I adopted Faith, the breeder’s family adopted me.

I will keep my promise. I will hold your memories. I will share them with the grandbabies. I promised Bonnie to be a better Bubby to your grandbabies.

Like Lori Darlin’, in Lonesome Dove, I can read my name, Dwight. My name is Julie Hooker.

Love,

Julie

“In a life gone unruly,

Thank heavens, there’s Julie.” — Dwight Hooker

PS — Mom and I reconciled.  My brother loves you so much.

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PPS — I remember Connecticut.  I remember “Woodstock.”  I remember being told I looked like Mia Farrow when I got our doughnuts.  I remember having to go into the Bed & Breakfast to turn on the TV so you would not miss the debate.

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About hookershorde

I am a school teacher, animal advocate and rescuer, yogi, and happy!
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2 Responses to The First Man I Remember, The Last Man I’ll Forget . . .A Love Letter for Dwight Hooker

  1. Bassam Salem says:

    So heartfelt and moving, Julie. What a great friendship you have.

    Like

  2. Dan Lunt says:

    Julie. I was returning to the office from lunch today and I couldn’t shake the feeling that lately my life has been devoid of art. At that moment, I thought of Dwight. Back at my desk, I Googled him and one thing led to another until I wound up here. Your letter touched my heart. Thank you for putting it so eloquently on paper. Reflection on the life of a good man has once again inspired me to take a fresh look at my own.

    Like

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