No offense to the late Carrie Fisher, but Princess Leia needed some makeup.
It was 1980. I was nine years old, and it was summertime. My sister and I were spending our days with my Aunt Laura while my mom worked. My cousin John – more brother than cousin – was our boon companion, our collaborator on all things creative and fun and science fiction. Those were the best summers, the best time of my childhood. Bike rides, comic books, video games, movies, books, painting, drawing, writing, baking, sewing, reading – we did it all. And loved every minute of it.
We’d just seen the second – and inarguably the best – Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back. Us kids were huge Star Wars fans, and we were obsessed with the new movie. New action figures were, therefore, required and purchased. Happily, the new Princess Leia was decked out in her fancy schmancy Cloud City ensemble. Trés chic! But something was a little…off.
I looked closer at the tiny little lady, that brave rebel in braids, and I noticed that she looked a little manly. Disappointed, I gave her tiny highness to my Aunt Laura, who summed up the problem neatly:
“Wow, she could use some lipstick.”
When I returned to Aunt Laura’s the next day, Princess Leia had been transformed – from the mannish, bland original into the radiant royal of the silver screen. How? Aunt Laura had painted her face and robe. Now Leia was ready for her close-up! She had ruby red lips, a faint hint of blush on her cheeks, and long dark eyelashes. Delicate flowers adorned her robe, completing the outfit. Hollywood wardrobe and makeup artists couldn’t have done better. I was thrilled! This was the Princess I had imagined.
My Aunt Laura is a creative wonder. She sees beyond what something is, to what it could be. Or what it should be. I have always admired this about her, her ability to make even the plainest things beautiful. It reminds me of that old saying about the elephant sculptor: he just chiseled away the parts that weren’t the elephant. Aunt Laura doesn’t chisel – but when she breaks out the craft supplies, art comes to life. Amazing.
Growing up with my Aunt Laura was fantastic. She changed the way I see the world. She taught me to admire God’s creation, to look for the beauty in the everyday things: a sunset, a giggle, an uncertain, awkward hug. I am blessed beyond words to have her in my life.
A few years ago when I learned to quilt, my mom and my Aunt Laura joined me for quilting class. Aunt Laura, for various reasons, did not get to finish her quilt, a white and purple nine-patch.
Mom decided to finish the top for her, and I quilted it a couple of months ago. Mom thought it would be a nice surprise, and a wonderful gift – a quilt that we all three worked on. I heartily agreed. The opportunity to collaborate on a work of art with the two most important women in your life, well, that’s not a chance that comes along often. I grabbed that chance! Here is the finished quilt.
I hope Aunt Laura thinks of Mom and I every time she cuddles under it to read a book, or to plan her next action figure makeover.
Peace be with you,
P.S. I free-hand quilted this quilt in an allover paisley flower pattern that I thought echoed the lilac print fabric. I like the round swirly-ness of the pattern.