In the Star Wars saga there is a lot of focus on fathers and father figures, and even on mothers and mother figures. But there isn’t much focus on grandparents in Star Wars. Oftentimes, a child’s relationship with a grandparent can be as important in shaping that child as their relationship with their parents. Just think of all of the benefits a child gains from a close bond with grandparents:
- A child has higher self-esteem and self-confidence. Grandparents tend to enjoy everything their grandkids do. And have you ever heard a grandma say she doesn’t have the cutest, smartest, most talented grandkids in the world? Those positive words stick with a child.
- A child can gain an appreciation for history. Grandparents are living history; they are a direct link to the past.
- Children get “spoiled” by their grandparents, and that’s ok. Kids are happy when they go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and there are mental and physical health benefits for happy children.
I feel like I would have missed out on a lot if I’d never known my grandparents. They lived through World War II and much of my appreciation of history, especially World War II history, came from talking to them. They were talking history books. There aren’t many people who can say they lived through a depression, a world war, a presidential assassination, a presidential resignation, and a presidential impeachment. My grandparents did.
They also started my love of sports, especially basketball. They used to take me to Utah Jazz games when I was younger. I can remember getting to the Salt Palace two hours before the games started just because my grandpa didn’t want to be late. We would get there before the arena opened. I hated it then (some would say I’m impatient), but I miss it now.
But can grandparents pass on traits to their grandchildren even if they never meet their grandchildren? Star Wars shows us they can. Shmi Skywalker is the most prominent grandparent in the Star Wars saga. She was never able to meet Luke and Leia, her grandchildren, but they definitely inherited many of her attributes. I realize that many of Luke and Leia’s characteristics also came from their parents, but I wanted to focus on grandparents this month. Shmi was selfless, loving, hard-working, self-sufficient, brave, resilient, and compassionate. She was a single mom and any parent knows how difficult that can be. She let her only son participate in a dangerous podrace in order to help others in their plight. She also was able to let her nine-year old son leave her so that he could have a life better than a slave. That scene in The Phantom Menace is still one of the most emotional of any of the films.
My mom tells me that some of my qualities (I use that term loosely) remind her of relatives I never met. So which of Shmi’s qualities were passed down to Luke and Leia? I would argue that all of them were received in some way by either or both Skywalker twins. Luke and Leia are selfless and brave. They repeatedly risk their own lives so that they can help their friends, family, and the Rebellion. They both fight the Empire on its base, the first Death Star. Just after escaping, Leia returned to Cloud City to rescue Luke after he was defeated and wounded by Darth Vader. Luke faced certain death on the second Death Star, but did so to try to redeem his father. There was no guarantee he would.
Luke and Leia are hard-working. It clearly isn’t easy work to be a moisture farmer on a desert planet or to train to be a Jedi Knight. It takes mental and physical dedication. It isn’t any easier to be a leader in a rebellion against the Galactic Empire, especially after your home planet is destroyed.
Luke and Leia are also both resilient. Leia could have given in to the Darth Vader’s interrogation on the first Death Star, but resisted. Luke could have conceded defeat to Vader on Cloud City, but refused to give in. Just as Shmi could have given up when she was a prisoner in the Tusken Raider camp. Death was most likely imminent, but she hung on long enough to see Anakin one last time.
The Skywalker twins obviously missed out on a lot by not knowing their grandmother. They were never doted on by Shmi. They weren’t able to learn many of the skills she likely learned while living as a slave on Tatooine. They were never told by their grandma how special they are. They both helped defeat the evil Empire so clearly they turned out all right. But it was many of Shmi’s traits that helped them along their ways.
My grandparents also helped grow my Star Wars fandom. They gave me my Jabba the Hutt playset for Christmas one year and I still have it today. So which traits do you have in common with your grandparents? Please let me know on Twitter @ryderwaldrondds, email me at email@example.com, or comment at the bottom of the page. And remember to listen to the Coffee With Kenobi podcast:
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