Hello everybody. I had a wee tiny little mental health breakdown that required a short vacation from the internet and blogging. Nothing serious. Don’t be concerned. Just a small bout of the writerly working girl blues. It happens. But I’m MUCH better now.
So let’s get back to Haunted October! And Star Wars!
Huh? Ghosts and Star Wars? The original Star Wars trilogy has been called many things – the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made (The New York Times), a spectacular intergalactic joyride (The Washington Post), the greatest space fantasy of all! (Marvel Comics) – but I don’t believe anyone ever refers to the original trilogy as a ghost story.
“You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”
Ah, Obi-Wan! My favorite fictional ghost of all time. Who could not love the crazy old wizard who turns out to be a wise and fearless Jedi master; calmly accepting death so that others may live? [Sigh] And yet, even death could not stop Obi-Wan from mentoring and encouraging the callow youth destined to save the galaxy. Obi-Wan is so awesome in ghostly form, he even has a ghostly action figure.
But seriously, Obi-Wan’s ghost gave me my first glimpse of a deceased person who CHOSE to hang around in ghostly form to do some good. Aside from the Holy Spirit, I had never heard of a good ghost. I’d never even imagined a ghostly mentor willing to show up with just the right advice at just the right times. Think about it. Most fictional ghosts are depicted as vengeful victims (Hamlet’s father), or wretched penitents (Jacob Marley), or dangerous entities unleashed by evil deeds (Poltergeist) or pathetic lost souls who can’t seem to find The Light (any episode of Ghost Whisperer).
Obi-Wan depicted a hopeful, powerful, enlightened, comforting ghostly image. And this was very important to me. VERY important.
Grandpa Eldon died in March of 1980. He was the only man I ever called Daddy, my best friend and the light of my life. (Sorry, Mom. I know that makes you cry, but it’s true.) He suffered a massive heart attack in the middle of the night and I was not allowed to visit him in the hospital during the final days of his life. We didn’t have the chance to say goodbye.
Or so I thought.
Three months later, my grandmother took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. There were many reasons why that movie changed my life. Among those reasons, Obi-Wan’s ghost along with Yoda’s teachings (“Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”) were far greater comfort to me than any of the Biblical passages that were muttered over the cold, square hole in the ground when we buried my Grandpa.
Not long after seeing ESB, my beloved grandfather came to see me in my dreams. That first night, he walked me through our house. Each room was decorated for a different holiday; it was Christmas in the front room, Halloween in the TV room, Thanksgiving in the kitchen and Easter in the front yard where he had hidden a rainbow of plastic eggs for me to find. Overjoyed to see him, I asked my Grandpa why everyone had lied to me and told me he was dead. He just smiled and told me he would always be with me. Always. Through every season and every holiday.
OK – all you skeptics and amateur psychologists out there might be tempted to point out that Grandpa Eldon’s message echoes Obi-Wan’s final line in A New Hope and that might lead you to the conclusion that this deeply spiritual and powerful experience from my childhood was just a case of wishful thinking. To you I say, pthththththth! It was real.
Grandpa continued to visit me in my dreams as I grew up. When my dog Pom Pom died, she started scampering through those dreams. In my late 20’s, after many years of not seeing him, Grandpa brought my recently departed kitty Charlie to say goodbye. Even though Charlie was very ill and suffering when I made the decision to let him go, I was plagued with debilitating grief and self-loathing for days after the vet carried him away. Grandpa assured me I’d done the right thing, taken the most compassionate action, and he was proud of me. Charlie was free from all pain and suffering now. I woke up after that dream, locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Oh how I cried! But it was a really good cry.
Whether anyone other than me believes that these dreams were real visitations doesn’t matter to me one wit. I don’t believe, I KNOW. My grandfather helped raise me from beyond the grave. Just like Obi-Wan helped train Luke from beyond the grave.
Recently, a sudden realization hit me; an epiphany of sorts.
I believe that the fictional depiction of Obi-Wan in ghostly form opened a door in my mind…a door that my grandfather walked through. And so, for me, my love of Star Wars and my fascination with ghost stories will always be intertwined. And perhaps I’m not the only one…
What about you? Have you ever had a loved one guide and comfort you from beyond the grave? Would you welcome a ghostly mentor? Or, like Scrooge, would you try to dismiss the encounter as “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato”?