A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

Posted: February 21, 2015 in Family
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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….two guys from the Sturgeon Falls galaxy took a trip aboard Air Canada to take part in the world’s largest Star Wars convention, Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida. Before leaving town, one got a haircut from JP Charles, the local Buzz Droid, and the other left his hair long, in the style of one Luke Skywalker….

Okay, enough with the shtick. If you had told me ten years ago that I would fly to Florida in the month August of to attend a convention of Star Wars buffs, I would have quite plainly laughed in your face. Sure, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but actually flying all this way to see this stuff. Uh-uh. No way.

A funny thing happened in those ten years, however. My son Alex became a ‘super fan’ of the movies, and because of his eidetic memory, became a walking encyclopedia of all things Star Wars. He has a Star Wars room, a room whose displays are complete Star Wars universe. He has metaphors for most any situation that can be drawn from the films or their sayings, and indeed, he learnt more about right and wrong from watching the Force take on the Dark Side than in any other source that I can think of.

It was with both great reluctance and yet great pride that I went there with Alex. I love to travel with my family, and have been to Florida with Alex several times. The other trips were in the winter, however. Did you know….it’s hot down there in August? I don’t mean hot like in West Nipissing. You could not only fry on egg on your car here, but the whole chicken as well. When we landed, it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Even the locals looked hot. Yet, to be able to bring Alex to the Mecca of Star Wars, I would have gone naked to Sweden. I suppose that goes without saying.

For those that have gone to College or University, and did very well in high school…do you remember the feeling you had when you left high school, and found out that everyone at university had also done well? You know, most of us at that point went from being top dog to Scrappy Doo in a heartbeat. Well, this convention left us with pretty much the same feeling. Just when you think you know your stuff, you walk into an enormous convention center, where 20,000 people who live and breathe Star Wars are walking about, salivating, touching things, giggling, and practically exploding at all the displays, memorabilia, actual stars who are here to sign autographs, and items so rare and expensive that some belong in the Smithsonian. We felt small.

At least, I did. Old Alex shone like the brightest star in the brightest constellation upon entering this place, and not for the first time, he showed me a thing or two. I know to some it’s just a movie series, and to many it is an annoyance. But to my boy, and apparently many others as well, this subject is just about all-encompassing.

How far he has come! My little non-verbal 5 year old has now become a mature young man, polite, kind, more of a man than many I have known. And accompanying him here, I have come to realize, he has surpassed the levels we had ever hoped he would attain. And he has so far to go.

In line at customs, we met a young man of 25 with Autism. He was from Detroit, and was returning from a convention in Vancouver of Transportation Engineers who were meeting to discuss ways of improving the 401. He is a graduate student of an Ivy League school, and is well on his way to attaining his Professional Engineering papers. He saw my t-shirt, which is my favourite…it’s one of the t-shirts from one of our Autism Awareness shows. He commented on it, and said, ‘I happen to be afflicted with autism…what a coincidence!’ That five minute meeting, by happenstance, showed me that Alex was on the right path to adulthood. This young man told Alex to persevere, to show people he was smart, to keep going, and he could do pretty much anything. Alex has kept away from the Dark Side, and is well on his way to Jedi Status.

In the beginning, I had intended to write about how quaint a trip this was, how seeing a little bit of Star Wars magic was just what the doctor ordered…light and fluffy. But I know that, for years to come, this memory will become a watershed moment in our development as a father and son, and indeed, a time where Alex showed me just who had the Force!!

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