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Dear George Lucas...

The mother of an autistic child talks about how Star Wars sustained her son's interest when other entertainment hasn't been able to do the trick.

Dear Mr. Lucas,

First of all, let me wish you the happiest of new years (I know you’ve been waiting to hear from me), with hopefully much peace and prosperity coming your way in the year to come. It may seem a little strange to hear from a housewife in Jersey who has absolutely no Hollywood connections, but in the event your assistant’s assistant’s assistant ever puts this into your hands, I felt I simply had to write.

You see, over the past three days, the McCafferty family has been celebrating “moviepalooza”, watching episodes four through six of the Star Wars movies (sorry sir, the best ones). That is to say, all of us watched them.

I mean, all four of us.

Together.

No interruptions.

All the way from “Dah dah dah DAH da” to the credits.

I’m sure this doesn’t sound in any way miraculous to you, as apparently families all over the world watch movies together, but in this household, it is indeed worth taking note of the occasion.

You see, my oldest son has moderate to severe autism, and part of his perseveration is to play the same clip of a movie over and over (and over) again, until frankly the film loses all meaning and anyone nearby who hasn’t become immune to the process over the years wants to pull out their hair.

It’s usually not much better in the theater either. Generally, getting Justin to remain seated for at least half the film is a Herculean effort requiring lots of popcorn, a lanyard, and begging.

In the past few years I’ve had to walk out in the middle of countless movies, without knowing for sure what would happen to those fetching gnomes in Gnomeo and Juliette or if Arthur would save Christmas for us all (fingers were crossed on that one). I usually have to take Zach to get to the end, or wait until the title comes out on DVD.

Have I mentioned that I’m not really that patient a person?

I digress. Anyway, over the last three days I’ve witnessed my son snuggled up with us on the couch, following the storyline with fascination, rocking out to the light saber fights, and seemingly fascinated by Jabba the Hutt (my husband particularly likes the scenes with Carrie Fisher and Jabba, can’t imagine why).

As a family, we pretty much have just bowling and Great Adventure as events all of us can share together, and depending on Justin’s mood, even bowling can be dicey. Those six hours, where occasionally he even looked over to me with wonder in his face and smiled, are pretty big.

I’m still smiling back.

I’m not sure if this is the start of something new, or just a fluke not to be repeated. We’ll be borrowing the first three episodes of Star Wars for a repeat marathon soon. And as long as Justin is captivated by those special effects and those intense battles, and can ignore Jar-Jar Binks, I think we may be okay.

We’ll have to see on that last one.

On that note, I’ll end this missive, and just say thanks. Thanks for dreaming up characters and plotlines still as captivating to my son now as they were to me thirty-five years ago (dear God), when I was a ten-year-old brat who said she never wanted to see a science fiction movie.

Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford (and their collective “yumminess”) changed that forever.

So, thanks Mr. Lucas. Thanks, and from one cinephile to another, happy new year.

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Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty January 03, 2013 at 05:09 PM
I've been there too with my littlest one! And for me, the victory was just in all of us being able to sit together and enjoy an activity as a family. It felt great. Hoping for the same success with the first three movies. Thanks for reading!
Max R January 03, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Kimberlee, that was just brilliant. I read your piece with delight. I am on board with your husband. When I first saw the Jabba the Hut/Carrie Fisher scene 30 years ago at 13 years old (gasp!) it was instantly my favorite Carrie Fisher scene. (I've got to admit, my close second is her trying to kill John Belushi with a flame thrower in The Blues Brothers!) I had a cold this weekend and had my own Moviepalooza which included The Blues Brothers, Speed (which I had never seen), and The King's Speech. Great article. God bless you and your family (and George Lucas too!)
Larry Cataldo January 04, 2013 at 03:17 AM
GREAT WHOLE SOME MOVIES , GOOD VS EVIL, A BOY AND HIS DOG, (R2D2) THE WISE OL MAN', AND TOO MUCH TO MENTION! AND GRANDPAS LOVE CARRIE AND JABBA TOO! THX MR LUCAS!
Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty January 04, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Thanks Max, and what a great Moviepalooza, I'm jealous!
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