Re: Dennis Hooker Passes Away
Dennis was my aikido teacher.
Which is an intimate way
to not know somebody.
I know Dennis taught aikido,
but I know next to nothing about his work.
I know when I grabbed his wrist
it felt spongy and soft,
and cold sometimes.
I know what his keiko gi smelled like.
But I don't know what he wore to go hunting,
or what he might pack for a lunch.
I don't know what sunglasses he preferred
when he and Dan went fishing.
I do know
that if his truck is in the dojo parking lot,
but he is nowhere to be found,
he's probably in the tea room,
taking a nap,
or hearing somebody out,
or just being alone.
I don't know if he played Monopoly with his grand kids.
I don't know if he and Connie liked to dance.
I don't know if he had a favorite chair
when he sat at home alone.
But I do know
that some of my most vivid memories of Dennis
all start out the same way.
He's teaching an aikido class.
Everybody's lined up and sitting in sieza.
I'm standing with him up front,
and Dennis has a hold of my gi.
Or maybe he's resting a finger tip
on that notch at the bottom of my throat.
He pauses, turns slightly to address the class,
"Now, I'm just going to show you this
so you'll know it's there if you ever need it.
But I want you to be very careful.
And if you're afraid to try it, that's okay.
But if you do try it, don't hurt each other!"
But we do hurt each other.
Dennis was my teacher.
He taught me to grab on.
To hold on to somebody.
To take the fall.
To get up.
To grab on again to somebody
and hold on.
The last time I saw Dennis,
he didn't look well.
There were a lot of people ahead of me,
so I had to wait my turn,
but I did get a moment with him.
I hugged him.
I held on long as I could.
I said that I loved him.
And then I let him go.