I am a child and family psychologist and my office is filled with memorabilia from Star Wars. I have a rare IG-88(with his weapon and box) as well as six Ultimate Collector Series Lego sets. I have upwards of 50 Darth Vader characters and my office resembles that of the bridge of a Star Destroyer. My décor and life is intentional. But until recently, the engine of my obsessive interest was unconscious.
I am the only child of an only child. I did not have the best social skills nor did I really have any friends. I spent most of my time building plastic models, building Legos, and living within my own imagination. My dad was a very busy man as he was a major in the Marine Corps, an executive with DuPont, and also was one of the top master shipbuilders in the world. His ships are on display in museums and in private collections across the planet.
While my dad was a loving father, he was very busy. I remember many times asking him “Will you play with me?” Most of the time his answer was, “In a minute…” But occasionally, my impressive father would sit down and build Legos with me. I remember one time in which he sat down and built a Lego dinosaur which upon completion and without directions literally belonged in a Lego museum. His creation was absolutely amazing. After about an hour of building, he looked at his creation and said, “Well, that was fun.” And off he went into his office.
I looked at his creation and thought, “I am his son so I must be able to build something similar.” Boy was I wrong. I spent the next 15 minutes building a crappy little police car, and it went horribly wrong. I looked at my Lego model, my eyes filled with tears. I threw the car down and raced off to my bedroom shutting the door feeling I was a failure.
Fast-forward to May, 25th 1977.
I was in the backseat of a green Ford LTD headed to our condominium in Myrtle Beach. I recall my mother looking at the entertainment section of a newspaper and holding up an image of a storm trooper firing down at two characters later to be known as Luke and Leia. My mom showed the paper to my dad and said, “You ought to take Frank to this movie.” He looked over and said, “The Star Wars?” At that point he asked me if I would like to go and I said, “Yes!”
I remember very little about that opening night other than remembering when the lights dimmed. I don’t remember the iconic opening scrawl. But yet, as an entire generation can attest, the intimidating and overwhelming presence of the star destroyer pursuing Princess Leia’s ship was indelibly imprinted in my mind. Even now I can see that scene replay over and over. My hair stood up.
After the film I remember very little other than walking out of the theater and feeling my dad reach down and hold my hand. I was probably eight years old. He looked down at me, and I remember looking up at him as he stated, “That Darth Vader was pretty cool.”
I nodded and smiled in agreement. My Dad and I connected that night. And so, my office is filled with Imperial Legos and Darth Vaders.
Star Wars means to me the love of my dad. Star Wars means a shared experience of imagination and a hero’s journey. My dad was my hero and I hope to this day he would be proud of me.
So on December 16, 2016 I will be seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with my 11-year-old son and my 13-year-old daughter as well as my loving and tolerant wife. I will be present in this monumental moment with my family and will hopefully be intentionally present in every moment of their lives whether their Lego creations are perfect or not.
May the Force Be With You…Always.