Carrie Fisher was hero to many

Published 4:20 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016


About a year ago when I was still living in North Carolina, I saw an ad on Twitter that intrigued me. I wound up driving to the Petco in Greenville, N.C., on my next available day off to search for Princess Leia hair buns for my dog.


Oh, like you’ve never tried to live vicariously through your children.


We found the “buns” and more Star Wars-themed dog toys and apparel and I was faced with a choice. Leia buns or Yoda ears.


I wound up getting the Yoda ears. I should have gotten the Leia buns too, but I made a choice that day.


I think Star Wars may have been the first movie I ever saw, or at least the first one I saw after my cognitive memory kicked in. I was only 4, but I remember going to see it with my family at the drive-in theater in West Quincy, Mo., which we never did. I couldn’t tell you the plot to save my life but I remember the characters. Somewhere in a box in the spare room of my house is a photo of me in my room, holding my childhood Raggedy Ann and Andy blanket. What’s noteable about the photo is the Star Wars poster on the door with one of my first childhood crushes, Luke Skywalker.


Not long after that trip to the drive-in and the taking of that photo, Mom announced one day that we were going swimming. We didn’t yet have a pool at our house and there was no public pool convenient to where we lived, so we were headed to Bowen, Ill., to the public pool there, a near-40 minute drive that was a downright exotic adventure through the countryside back then, before the interstate got built.


To prep for the pool, Mom fashioned my long hair into real-life Princess Leia buns. I felt special.


I certainly must have felt their magical powers because pretty soon at the pool, my little scared-of-heights self had climbed the highest ladder there on the highest diving board and was preparing to jump … when Mom spotted me.


I don’t know why this would have come as a shock to her, since Shrader family legend has it – and she’s actually told the story – I learned to swim by being dropped by my mother off a diving board at my swim instructor’s pool. But for whatever reason, Mom lost her mind when she saw me at the top of that diving board.


I wound up having to take the walk of shame, Princess Leia braids and all, back down the diving board in front of a bunch of high school kids.


The force was not with me that day.


We’ve seen what feels like a disproportionate number of celebrities leave us this year, but when Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, it stung. Mostly, it just seems inordinately unfair.


I may have started out a Princess Leia fan, but later in life, I was a Carrie Fisher fan. I respected her, more than anything. I respected the fact she was a gifted writer. I respected the fact she could talk about her life with unflinching honesty and self-deprecation. I respected the fact she had survived so much, and was still putting herself out there, with her adorable French bulldog Gary at her side.


To some she was just a princess, but to many she was a hero. She was one of mine.


Jennifer Shrader is editor of the LaGrange News.