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Melinda’s Brew : In The Eye of the Beholder

Melinda’s Brew : In The Eye of the Beholder

Elvis Presley’s birthday was January 8. He would have been 80 years old — if he was alive. Every year, the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s birthday is celebrated around the globe, and I must admit … it astounds me. He passed from this early world almost 38 years ago! How can people acknowledge a mark that celebrates life when (and I do not mean to be crass) there is no life?

What does that have to do with Star Wars? I’ll get to that in just a moment. Please, continue reading …

When I took down our 2014 calendar from the wall and replaced it with that of 2015, I opened it to January. There, leading off the first month — and staring me in the face — was January 1. I smiled a small smile. If he was still alive, we would be celebrating my dad’s 85th birthday. Quite a milestone it would have been had he lived that long. Wow, Dad! Eight-five! Wow! But there is no 85th birthday to celebrate. Come this October, he will have been gone from our lives (in a physical sense) for 10 years. There hasn’t been a single day that has passed that I don’t think about the very special person who was my father. I miss him. Life goes on, of course. While I no longer can enjoy spending time with my dad, he is with me every single day. I feel his quiet presence. I sense his gentle hand on my shoulder encouraging me to be the best person I can be. I hear his measured words urging fairness for all. Most of all, I see the smile on his face that always reached his dark eyes. That smile was all the encouragement I needed to pursue anything life had to offer.

Still wondering how all this relates to Star Wars? I’m getting there, if you’ll just bear with me for a moment or two longer …

Thinking about my dad on January 1 on what would have been his 85th birthday, I found myself settling into a reflective mood. I found a quiet spot for myself — in a chair in which I could plop my body down, stare out the large-paned window at the small, brown expanse that is our yard, and just think, let my mind wander. When I allow it to meander wherever it wants to go (something I encourage everyone to do from time to time), I find myself traveling a myriad of paths. Quite the journey I take. This particular morning was no different.

After a few twists and turns, I revisited a conversation one of my sisters and I had almost a year ago. She loved and cared for our dad, I have no doubt, yet I found her being rather critical of our father on this particular occasion. “It always bothered me when Dad would come home from work, get the newspaper, and sit in that chair in the living room,” she recounted. I remember it well. “We couldn’t bother him until he was done reading. It didn’t matter if we had something to talk to him about. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t important, but it was to a 10-year-old or 6-year-old or 14-year-old.” I remember Dad doing that — but I remember sitting in the chair next to his — patiently, I hope ๐Ÿ˜‰ — just enjoying being with him after hours of separation. There was something soothing being in his presence. “He never did anything,” my sister continued to criticize. Her husband got involved in their children’s Little League and softball leagues. Our dad was not that kind of dad. Since none of us (my sisters, brother and I) were athletes, did that really matter? Instead, our dad spent countless hours helping us understand the complexities of algebra, chemistry and calculus. Ours was a father whose actions always spoke louder than his words. I remember the day Tom and I ventured down to Chicago to share some big news with my parents. My mom jumped to the conclusion that we were going to announce we were having our first baby. Boy, was she surprised when we revealed that I had joined the United States Marine Corps! Needless to say, my mom did not take the news well. My dad, on the other hand, said simply that it was not necessarily the path he would have chosen for his oldest child, but since I was determined to do this, he would support me. And he did.

Thinking about my sister’s and my different views of the same individual, I recalled a similar story Tom shared with me years ago. Tom is the youngest boy and second youngest in a family of seven children. With such a large brood, he and his siblings have quipped many a time over the years that they were convinced their parents had so many children so they’d have free labor. lol I doubt that ever entered into the equation, but it certainly worked out that way. ๐Ÿ˜‰ On a trip down to Missouri to visit one of Tom’s brothers and his family, the brothers got to talking about their teen years. “I didn’t like that Dad would make us give up our weekends to go paint an apartment that had been vacated,” Tom’s brother noted. By the tone of his voice, you could tell the memory still irked him. (Their parents owned a few apartment buildings in the metropolis in which they grew up.) Tom didn’t see it that way at all. “Gee, I always took those weekends working with Dad as lessons in responsibility,” Tom countered. “You take on a job, and you have to get it done. And as we got older, it was a way to spend time with Dad. I liked it.”

Isn’t it interesting — and sometimes confounding — how two people can look at exactly the same person or situation, and see that individual or event completely different? Sometimes you wonder if it was possible that the two of you ever were in the same place at the same time!

This line of thinking brought me to Star Wars. “Return of the Jedi” to be exact.ย See? I told you my musings would lead to Star Wars. Eventually. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My very favorite film moment of the entire saga occurs near the end of ROTJ when Luke realizes he is treading awfully close to the Dark Side boards, regains control of his senses, stands tall before Emperor Palpatine, and after tossing his lightsaber away, proclaims proudly, “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.”

At that moment, Luke puts into action his view of how he perceives his father — not as Darth Vader, the hard-hearted, cold, evil right hand subject of the powerful Sith Lord, but rather as the empathetic, compassionate, fight-for-truth-and justice Jedi Anakin Skywalker. It wasn’t that Luke ceased being cognizant of everything Anakin did as Darth Vader. He just chose to concentrate his thoughts on the man who had done so much good. Leia, on the other hand, took a lot longer than Luke to come around to view Anakin/Darth Vader in a new light — but that’s understanding since the Dark Lord was directly involved in the annihilation of her home world and the deaths of the populace on the planet at the time of its destruction (for those of you who enjoy the EU, or Legends, as it now is called). While it’s true Luke was not on the Death Star while Leia watched her beloved planet — and her parents along with it — be destroyed, neither was Leia present when Luke’s only family was slaughtered on Tatooine. However, both knew who was responsible for the murders, and they could empathize and sympathize with each other. Likewise, the two watched in horror as Vader slew Obi-Wan Kenobi on the first Death Star. In addition, neither had to witness the countless acts of terror and fear Darth Vader wreaked across the galaxy to know what an evil being he was. Leia had a challenging time getting past all the horrors for which Vader/Anakin was responsible.ย Yet, Luke sensed the good that still existed in Vader — and fixated on that point. That glimmer of hope caught Luke in its grip, and directly affected how he viewed Vader/Anakin.

Two people find themselves in the same place, live through the same experience, yet emerge with very different impressions. My sister sees our dad one way, I another. Same with Tom and his brother.ย Who is right? Is either wrong? After contemplating all this — and musing here — I am no closer to an answer to these perplexing questions than I was when I began. In the end, it really isn’t for me to say. The eyes and heart see what they want to see. It really does come down to what is in the eyes of the beholder.

Three hundred thirty-seven days and counting…

MTFBWY ๐Ÿ™‚

p.s. If you’d like to drop me a line, you can reach me at melindaw@coffeewithkenobi.com. Of course, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you! ๐Ÿ™‚

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15 Comments

  1. Randy
    January 15, 2015 at 11:29 Reply

    First off Melinda, I’m calling my Dad today. Second, thank you for your transparency. We all see life from our own perspective, or “certain point of view”. When I was younger that “like my father before me line” was not even considered. Now as a father it’s huge. What father wouldn’t want their son to say the same thing. With the same conviction and pride. Great blog!

  2. Erica
    January 15, 2015 at 13:08 Reply

    I just got to sit down and have lunch with my dad. Quality one on one time is so rare and precious!

    As for the different points of view about parents. I don’t think there is a right or wrong view, there is just the reality of each person’s experience.

    Btw, the R2 cookie jar I won got lots of great use during the holidays! Thank you so much! Great entry ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Melinda
      January 17, 2015 at 09:55 Reply

      ๐Ÿ™‚ I am in total agreement, Erica. I always (or for as long as I can remember ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) have been fascinated by the different points of view individuals can have about the same issue/person/situation. I like to keep an open mind, and trying to see things from another’s point of view helps me (I hope) expand my own impressions. Maybe not necessarily cause me to change my stance, but hopefully open my eyes, and my mind. I hope that makes sense.

      I am so glad you are using your prize. Did you turn on your cookie jar? Did R2 reprimand some from digging in the cookie jar too much? lol I flipped the switch only for a moment to make sure R2 worked, but beyond that, I don’t know what he “said”. I didn’t want to wear out the batteries. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you so much!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Melinda
    January 16, 2015 at 06:02 Reply

    Thank you so much, Randy! I’m glad you enjoyed reading this, and I’m glad you intend to call your dad (if you haven’t done so already). ๐Ÿ™‚ Like you, as I’ve gotten older, and had children of my own, I’ve connected with different aspects of the Saga that I didn’t when I first saw ANH back in 1977. Luke always will be my favorite character. However, I understand Obi-Wan and his motivations a lot more than I did when I was barely out of my teens, and find myself identifying with him more so these days.

    Please forgive me, but I must admit I really don’t know what you mean by “… (my) transparency.” I hope you mean that in a good way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    MTFBWY ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Randy
      January 17, 2015 at 19:21 Reply

      Absolutely! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to learn about the dynamic between you and your sister. Also sharing your thoughts about the loss of your father. Investing yourself in your writing is what a great blogger does. I look forward to your next post.
      Randy

      1. Melinda
        January 21, 2015 at 20:32 Reply

        Thank you — immensely! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Pam Bruchwalski
    January 17, 2015 at 14:03 Reply

    I’m glad that your dad’s birthday gave you the opportunity to reflect on who he was to you.

    It IS fascinating (and sometimes enlightening) that different people’s perspectives on the same, exact things are so different. It’s a little tricky when it comes to parents, and I say this as a daughter and a mother. As long as the more “negative” thinker’s perspective isn’t discounted, different can be good.

    Your blogs make me think…as always!

    1. Melinda
      January 21, 2015 at 20:38 Reply

      Thank you so much, Pam. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can speak only for myself, but I truly believe that NO ONE’S perspective ever should be discounted. If different points of view exist, they exist for a reason. At least that’s my way of looking at pretty much everything. From politics to personal relationships to … well, everything! ๐Ÿ™‚

      ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Jay Krebs
    January 18, 2015 at 14:48 Reply

    Thank you for sharing those memories of your Dad! Of course, you know that I just lost my Mom recently, and I also lost my Dad back in 1998. Not having any parents around anymore is a strange thing. Even though I may not have talked to them or saw them every day, at least I knew they were still THERE…One thing I’ve learned is that the black hole in your heart never gets any smaller, you just learn to navigate around it, so you don’t get sucked into its darkness quite as often.

    I have always found perspective to be a fascinating thing. I wish I could remember this one quote from Mara Jade about perception. It’s one of my favorites (you’d think I would remember it, then…right?! If only!)

    Anyway, it’s so true that Luke’s perspective of his father changed everything about the situation. It was, indeed, the saving grace that contributed to the end result we all know and love – Anakin’s redemption! I’m very impressed that you spoke so kindly of Anakin/Vader in this entry – I know he’s not your favorite SW personality for a number of reasons!

    On a more personal note, I was just up at my Mom’s again yesterday. My four siblings and I have been meeting as much as possible to try and go through the house, the “stuff” to divvy up…anyway, it struck me as we were going through things that each of us had very different memories of the same item. There is a span of 18 years between my oldest sister and myself (the baby). We would pull out something, and one of us would say “Oooh! I remember that! I used to play with it all the time!” …or “I used to love to help Mom use that…” Were one of us would have very strong memories of a certain item, the rest of us may have very different – or no memory – of it at all. It did help us to divide and conquer many of the items we had to go through, largely based on our PERSPECTIVE….!

    As always, excellent entry. It hit home with me in many ways! ๐Ÿ™‚
    MTFBWY!!
    ~Jay

    1. Melinda
      January 21, 2015 at 21:15 Reply

      Jay, I think you’re going to have to do some research to find that Mara Jade quote. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I hope you don’t think I despise Anakin. That isn’t the case. I actually like him, for the most part, until he interferes, causing Mace’s demise, and turns to the Dark Side. Darth Vader? Well, that’s a different matter. Harsh though it may sound, I give no quarter to anyone who causes harm to or the suffering of others.

      It is inspiring — at least from my perspective — that Luke was able to see past what Anakin had become, and saw that there still was good in the being who had become Darth Vader. That isn’t always the case with individuals, but Vader’s/Anakin’s redemption does show there is hope. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I hope the navigation of life without your mom’s presence is getting a little easier every day. That doesn’t mean you miss her any less. That is a sweet story you shared about meeting with your siblings at your mom’s. ๐Ÿ™‚ Memories are so powerful. I hope there were plenty of smiles and laughter to go around as you all recounted your tales. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for stopping by. I know you’ve been incredibly busy of late, and it means a great deal to me that you took time to meander over this way. ๐Ÿ™‚ MTFBWY ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Becca Benjamin
    January 20, 2015 at 11:12 Reply

    How beautiful, truly ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s rather interesting how so many can view one individual in a vast amount of ways.
    Oh I’m sure my brother and I see our parents in different lights, not that that’s a bad thing…it just gives our POV’s that much more flavor ๐Ÿ˜‰ so to speak.

    Speaking of wide ranges of POV, take a look at the SW community. We don’t always look at each character of the SW saga the same as our inner circle friends…no siree Bob lol!
    And that’s ok ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s what makes this so much fun and continuously ongoing.

    Great entry ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Melinda
      January 21, 2015 at 20:57 Reply

      Thank you so much, Becca! ๐Ÿ™‚ You are so right, too, about what you said about all of us in the SW community. We don’t always look at, for instance, a character in the same light. The important thing, I believe, is to be respectful of each other’s thoughts, opinions, points of view. I try to be (and hope I succeed).

      Whenever my mind starts wandering down the path of the topic about which I wrote here, I can’t help but think about the adage “Walk a mile in (his) moccasins”. As much as we try to understand, empathize, sympathize, can we ever really know what causes one to feel the way s/he feels, think the way s/he thinks? And how can two people who grew up in the same house, were treated EXACTLY the same (there are only 16 months between my sister and me, and she and I were treated, disciplined, took part in *whatever* the same — more so compared to our youngest sister and brother. Yet, we are so different — that’s an understatement! — that you’d never know we are sisters except for the slight family resemblance and that we told you so!) be polar opposites, see a situation/person so very differently? I find it fascinating, intriguing. Just something I like to contemplate from time to time. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am so glad you stopped by. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Randy
    January 22, 2015 at 13:19 Reply

    Yes Jay, please find that quote!
    Randy

  8. Lisa
    January 25, 2015 at 15:54 Reply

    Wonderful, my dear friend. You know I lost my Mom 25 years ago – but I still celebrate her birthday with flowers and a trip to the cemetery every year! She would be 83 this May. Likewise, my Dad turned 83 last August. I’m very fortunate to still have him around – in the same house, just down the hall. I can hear him rattling his newspaper right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You also know I have a sister, but we didn’t grow up together – and we’re not close. Had things been different, it would be interesting to compare how we view our father. I’d imagine we have very different takes on him – we just don’t share them. He presents himself very differently to myself, as compared to my sister. He’s more “natural” around me, and a bit more formal around her. Granted, he’s been around me longer – so I imagine that’s where the discrepancy lies.

    Thanks for a great blog! ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW, that’s my favorite line of dialogue, you know – “I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.” I even took my Hyperspace blog name from that quote, way back in the day.

    1. Melinda Wolf
      January 30, 2015 at 17:21 Reply

      First, my dear friend, I must apologize for the length of time that has elapsed since you left your comment. I have been swamped with work — of all kinds — in the last couple of weeks which has prohibited me from doing what I’d prefer to be doing (visiting here ๐Ÿ™‚ ). While I do not mention this as an excuse, I hope it explains my absence.
      That being said …

      I think it’s wonderful that you continue to honor and remember your mom in the way you do. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know you were very close to her, and you are a testament to what a special person she must have been (I say “must have” since I never had the honor of meeting her.). I know it’s small consolation, but I truly believe no one is truly gone as long as that individual is remembered. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think it would be fascinating to know both you and your sister’s impressions of your father. Especially since she hasn’t gotten to know him like you do. Maybe you will have the opportunity one day to find out her impressions of him. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my musings. That means a great deal to me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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