They say mothers know their children. So it must have been that natural instinct that led my mother to believe that I was going to love Star Wars. So one early summer evening in 1977, she loaded me and Cheryl in the Grand Ville, along with homemade popcorn, store bought cookies, and our favorite Nehi drinks and we went to the Southwest Twin Drive-in to see Star Wars.
Until the release of Star Wars the best space show out was Star Trek. It really didn’t peak my curiosity. My brother Eric was the trekkie in our family. In Star Wars there were droids, aliens, and wookies. The special effects were a big deal back then. Two hours of heaven for a little boy. The next day, I started on my Christmas list. I wanted a life saver (didn’t learn until later it was light saber), all of the action figures, the ships. I wanted it all. I didn’t have to wait for Christmas for one thing. I started that school year off with a Star Wars lunch box. When Christmas time arrived, momma (Santa at the time) did not disappoint! I got all of the major action figures, a light saber, an x-wing fighter, a tie-fighter, Star Wars pajamas, Star Wars bed sheets, and a Star Wars sleeping bag. What a great Christmas that was.
Three years later, The Empire Strikes Back hit the silver screen. I didn’t go to the movies to see it. I actually waited for cable to see it. I wasn’t quite as amped about the new characters and things. I did get the Empire Strikes back game for my Atari 2600 game system.
By the time Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, I was on a whole other level of life. I was more focused on going to junior high. Momma asked me if I wanted to see it, but I passed. In the years to come, I had nieces popping up everywhere. The only niece that really took to Star Wars, was Erica. In 1999, the Star Wars prequels started to emerge. When The Phantom Menace debuted, I was now a husband, father of 2, and 3 year veteran of the police force. A lot had changed since my light saber days. I didn’t get a chance to catch it in theaters. In 2002, The Attack of the Clones, slipped past me. Maybe it was because a 3rd little Braxton was added to the fold.
One day, in the early part of 2005, an 8 year-old Chandler came to me and said, “Daddy, what is the Star Wars trilogy?” I went into Foghorn Leghorn mode. “Sit down son and let me tell you about Star Wars.” After my lesson on Star Wars, Chandler asked if we could go see Revenge of the Sith when it came to the movies that May. Still in Foghorn Leghorn mode I said, “Son, you can’t go see part 6 before you’ve seen part I. During Spring Break, I’ll bring you up to snuff on Star Wars.” A few weeks later, Chandler and I overdosed on Star Wars. For 7 days, we watched every movie at least 3 times. He was well prepared for the May premier of Revenge of the Sith. I even bought him the Star Wars game for his… whatever game system he had at the time. The game was a lot more complex that the one for my Atari. I had to make a trip to the principal’s office because his Darth Vader choke hold was confused for another obscene gesture. Not that one was any better than the other, but I digress. The day arrived and we went to see Revenge of the Sith. I was able to actually see through him, the joy that I experienced when I saw my first Star Wars Movie. That following Christmas, he got his light saber. His was a lot cooler than mine. He cut my arm off numerous times. As the years passed, we still catch the Star Wars Marathons and pay homage every May 4(May the 4th be with you? Get it?) We get a good laugh when one of us is able to pull a Star Wars line from our cache of snappy comebacks. I have even more fun, we I speak Yoda to him. To death it aggravates him.
My youngling, Chandler is almost 19 now. He is just as eager as I am to go see The Force Awakens on December 18. Rumor has it that we’re too late to purchase tickets for the midnight showing. But we’re going to give it a shot. The only concern I have is that stealth sleep monkey that stalks and knocks me out after midnight. With Darth Vader gone, I wonder what direction the story will go. Chandler read numerous books on things that happened post-Darth Vader, so his mind is wondering more than mine. The Star Wars Saga has spanned two generations of my family. If the writers can keep the franchise exciting, perhaps one day 3 generations of Braxton Jedi will walk into a theater to enjoy a new Star Wars movie. May the force be with you, always.