(Originally published on Blogcritics.org)
Still hanging with my UCLA/ROTC buddies six years after graduation, we got together to see the new Sam Peckinpah film, Cross of Iron. As we entered the theatre near the intersection of Wilshire and Westwood Boulevards, I saw a lobby card for some kind of new sci-fi flick. I made a mental note that it looked like it might be fun.
One week later, Margaret and I went on our first date. For reasons beyond the scope of this article, discretion was called for, so I drove her 41 miles to Westwood to see that sci-fi flick. We sat in the darkened theatre, holding hands, and it began. “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
We were enthralled. I pegged the movie as an homage to Flash Gordon and WWII films with starships taking the place of B-17s. By the way, the name of the Carrie Fisher character was pronounced “Lee-uh” not “Lay-uh”, by everyone but C3PO actor Anthony Daniels, who was burdened by his English birth. It was dubbed over to “Lay-uh” in later releases.
That bit of Star Wars trivia is important, because three years later Margaret and I were sitting in a theatre watching The Empire Strikes Back, and she was pregnant. Every time the “March of the Empire” played, the baby would kick. When the baby was born a few months later, we named her “Leia.” She was a Star Wars fan before she was born.
Star Wars became a part of our lives. From posters on the wall of our home theatre and my man-cave to talking Yodas on the fireplace mantle and Christmas tree ornaments, it was everywhere. Yoda was Margaret’s favorite character.
When Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace premiered, Margaret and I were at the first showings. It was May 19, 1999, her birthday. Thank you for the birthday present, George Lucas. (Although, that “thank you” excludes Jar Jar Binks.)
I retired from my day-job in 2011. My friends and co-workers knew about Star Wars and used the force to inspire their dress at my retirement party. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a conga line containing Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and Obi Wan. Margaret wore her sequined Yoda shirt.
Margaret left us last year. (I thought I could write that without crying. No.) This was our first Christmas without her. Would there be no Star Wars gifts under the tree this year? Margaret’s first great grandson, Jaden, was born five years ago. I passed the light sabre this year and gave him a t-shirt that reads “The Force is Strong in this One.”
It was a long time ago when Margaret and I first started our intergalactic journey, but it seems like yesterday. The force was with us.