When I was four years old I played in one area. I had a little red chair with a wood table where my parents set up my Fisher Price Medieval action figures. There was also a television a few feet away that I would always ask someone to turn on when I was playing. One day, my parents said, “We think you will like this movie. Your cousin Kevin loves it.” I just smiled and my mom put in the VHS tape. When Star Wars started I was instantly curious. It held my attention the entire time. I thought it was just amazing. When they saw how much I loved it they showed me the other two movies in the original Star Wars trilogy. Kevin sent me his Star Wars toys from Colorado that he played with when he was younger. Kevin’s teachers told my aunt that it was a problem that he played with his toys so much.
When I was in elementary school I was an only child. When I got home from school the Star Wars characters were my imaginary friends. When I was eight years old, my family and I went to Colorado to see my Aunt Barbara, Uncle John, and my cousins Bryan and Kevin. Bryan was an older teenager. He was also a Star Wars fan. He wasn’t into the stories as much as Kevin, who was two years younger than Bryan. When we got time to hang out together, Kevin showed me the rest of his toys. I was really excited because they were almost all Star Wars play sets. Then my mom, who was helping me play with the toys with Kevin, left to go talk to my Aunt Barbara in another room. We continued to talk about Star Wars for a few more hours. Kevin then put Return of the Jedi on the television, and he stayed with me and watched it until I fell asleep. I am sure Kevin had many other things he could have done that day. I always looked up to him because he spent the whole day talking about the movies with me. It was that day I really fell in love with Star Wars.
A year later Kevin sent me more of his toys. Some of them were the same toys that I thought were so cool when he showed them to me at his house. My Uncle JJ told me how he had carved the Star Wars logo out of wood for Kevin when Kevin was a teenager and that Kevin had the carving hanging in his room.
I got closer with my Uncle John’s entire family, including Kevin and Bryan. When emails came out it was easier than calling them up and trying to talk on the phone. Years later Kevin got married to Ashley. I met Ashley on their wedding weekend, and we bonded quickly. A big surprise, she liked Star Wars too. I had a great time at their wedding with my entire family. After that, I continued to hear about them from my grandma’s regular Sunday visits back at home. I have five pairs of aunts and uncles who live out of state. My grandma would sit with me and go through each aunt and uncle, telling me how they were doing in their lives. When we got to my Uncle John and Aunt Barbara, I would always ask about Bryan, Kevin and Ashley.
Later, Kevin and Ashley came to my home in New York for my sister Mariel’s communion. It was surprising when they said they wanted to take Mariel and me to Jones Beach on one of the few days they were here. We went without my parents. I remember it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the sky was so blue. I was a teenager and Mariel was eight years old. I felt so lucky that Kevin took care of me for the whole day, which at this time of my life, not many others did. I remember Kevin had to carry me down to the beach. He did this like it was nothing. I continued to have fun with them the next day at my sister’s communion party.
Years later, Ashley and Kevin called us to tell us she was pregnant with their first child, Caroline, and then again, a couple of years later to say that Jack was on his way. When I was on social media with Kevin after that, he would share with me how he was teaching Caroline and Jack all about Star Wars and that they loved playing with the toys.
Ashley threw Kevin a surprise thirtieth birthday party. She had shirts made with a picture of Caroline on them that said, “I Am Your Father”. This is a famous line that Darth Vader says in The Empire Strikes Back. During the next five years I was able to talk to Kevin almost every week on the internet because he was working from home. Kevin sent me a message on Facebook to tell me about the party and how surprised he was.
I was shocked when I found out Kevin had passed away from a stomach condition he had since birth. I was heartbroken with the news as was my entire family.
A year after Kevin passed away, Ashley, Caroline and Jack came to see us in New York. They were staying in the city with Uncle Bryan. We spent the day with them around New York. We had a fantastic time. Now that Jack is a teenager, he has the Star Wars logo that my Uncle JJ carved so many years earlier.
When I got older I learned about the Christian themes in the movies. I watched many of George Lucas’ interviews and documentaries to learn all about how he made his films. George Lucas took ideas from Calvinism and the Catholic church for the culture of the Jedi. He relied heavily on Buddhism and Confucianism for the character of Yoda. The stunt choreographers used kung fu and jiu jitsu for the epic lightsaber battles.
I was even able to bring Star Wars into my work with the youth group. We talked about how Christian themes were intertwined into Star Wars movies. I helped run Christian movie night for the high school students. My friend Brooke and I decided to show a Star Wars marathon and that day we got our largest attendance for any of our movie nights.
Star Wars has opened many doors for me socially. I have many friends who love the universe. I met a young man one year when I was living in Florida who worked for Disney playing some of the Star Wars villains, like Darth Vadar and Boba Fett. After I met him in-person we were able to chat online. Over time he has introduced me to many of the Star Wars online fan communities where I have been able to make more friends. I hope to one day write a Star Wars script for Disney. This is on my dream bucket list.
Kevin was a Jedi master. I hope to one day pass on what I have learned from him to my three young nephews, who are just starting to watch the Star Wars animated shows. This way the force can continue to be strong in my family.
14 September, 2023