I don't write for pleasure much anymore. But Facebook reminded me this morning that the anniversary of my mother's death is coming up. And I had a couple of memories worth preserving. And I figure this space is as good as it gets.
Grief is not an easy thing to handle. And over the years I've learned that it's important to feel to heal. So I share this with that in mind. Also-- different stages of grief present different challenges. I'm not interested in rating those challenges, but for various reasons one challenge that is difficult for me the longer she is gone is remembering that my Mom truly loved me.
I'd like to preserve here my memory of two experiences that remind me of that.
Several years ago I dated a woman who was a mother. This can be a very sensitive thing, getting to know someone well while they play such an important role in the life & development of other little people. It was something that we sought to manage very carefully. The relationship ended up not making it, but we did about the best we could.
She was very gracious to include me in various family rituals of their's. One experience that I remain grateful for was getting to play Santa Claus. I do not mean dressing up in the costume & delighting kids in person. Rather, I mean wrapping presents, setting everything out on Christmas Eve, and then enjoying the cookies and milk.
As I learned... it was work! Getting everything together & wrapping the presents took effort. But we managed to get everything together. And once we had everything laid out -- around the Christmas tree and spilling out into the rest of the living room area -- I marveled at how perfect the scene appeared.
And then it hit me. I had not observed a scene like that probably in over 20 years. Whenever it was the last time my parents made a big production out of playing Santa Claus. And had laid everything out just so for my sister and I.
And at that moment it hit me how much work Mama had put in to making those productions. And I realized she loved me.
This weekend I was at a church convention. It's called Lads to Leaders, and I had a blast! I got to observe a host of kids (aged 3rd grade through high school) getting recognized for excellence in activities of church leadership. It was inspiring. And being around friends all weekend made it special.
There was one added element that made it even more special. Across the street from our hotel in Orlando, FL, a major Star Wars convention was taking place. When I say major... George Lucas (the creator of Star Wars) and Mark Hamill (the actor who plays Luke Skywalker) were in attendance. There were folks walking all throughout our hotel engaging in Star Wars cosplay (wearing costumes of Star Wars characters), which delighted the kids in our group to no end!
I had mixed feelings about the whole scene. Like most men(boys) my age, I love the Star Wars saga. I just don't love it that much. Similarly, I love to enjoy Alabama football. But likewise, I have never engaged in the Running of the Gumps. They may not be high, but I have my standards. I digress. As were many 80's kids, this 80's kid was obsessed with Star Wars. I would watch VHS tapes of the movies again and again and again. I'd play Star Wars with my Lego's. I loved it.
Back to this weekend in Orlando...
I was in the giant hotel lobby Sunday morning, checking off the names of our group as they were loading onto the big charter bus, when all of a sudden Warwick Davis came whizzing by me on a Segway! It was a surreal sight on so many levels. This guy played an ewok in Star Wars! This guy played the titular role in "Willow!" This guy rode a Segway 2 feet away from me & proceeded to get on a VIP elevator at our hotel!
As I was recounting the experience to one of my best friends, I remembered and made mention that "Willow" was the first movie that I ever saw in a movie theater. I remember it pretty clearly. I was 7 years old & my sister was 2. Mom must have made arrangements for her and I to be able to spend the afternoon together by ourselves. She must have been trying to keep it a surprise, because when we arrived at the Regency theater on 23rd Street, I remember asking her what we were doing. She replied, "Going to see a picture show!" I remember wondering & asking, "What in the world is a picture show?" It was my first one ever.
We watched the film. It was a little weird. I liked it okay, but it wasn't Star Wars.
It wasn't until yesterday, when my good friend made mention of this factoid, that I knew this: George Lucas, the writer & creator of Star Wars, also wrote "Willow."
It was at that moment that I realized again that Mama loved me. She carved out an afternoon to take her Star Wars-obsessed boy for his first movie theater experience to see a film that she knew I would probably love. Today I actually do love that movie, getting sucked in whenever I happen to catch it on Cable TV. Now I find myself looking forward to the next time I'll get to catch a repeat viewing.
Thank you, Mama