So, this week – yesterday, in fact – marks the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the fifth Star Wars feature film and the second installment of the Prequel Trilogy.
As it happens, I saw Attack of the Clones on Opening Day at the now (sadly) shuttered AMC 14 Theater at the Mall of the Americas. It was only the third Star Wars movie I saw on its first day of “wide release” – after 1983’s Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. I went with my mom and then-girlfriend Betty June Price; Mom was not in a good mood that day so she didn’t like the movie on her first watch – years later, she liked it more after we watched it together in 2010 or 2011 on DVD.
As it also happens, 2002 was the year that my mom’s health began its downward slide, although at the time we didn’t know it. She was still driving her Chevy Cavalier then, and she would eventually upgrade her “wheels” to a Mitsubishi Miarage that our Swiss friends and neighbors – Rolf and Annette – had to sell because they were moving back to Switzerland, but she suffered from occasional dizzy spells and got extremely tired in the afternoons.
At first, her primary care physician (PCP) at the time thought Mom was suffering from anemia, but after a battery of tests and visits to hematologists and other specialists, she was diagnosed with a condition called “watermelon stomach.”
What is “watermelon stomach,” you ask?
Well, this is how the Mayo Clinic explains this medical condition:
The term watermelon stomach is another name for a condition called “gastric antral vascular ectasia,” or GAVE. With a name like watermelon stomach, it’s not surprising that the image of a large, oval-shaped belly may be the first thing to pop into your mind. Rather, the term comes from the internal appearance of the stomach lining in those who have gastric antral vascular ectasia. Engorged blood vessels in the lining of the lower part of the stomach often form as red stripes, and resemble the dark green and light green stripes on the outside of a watermelon. These blood vessels are prone to bleeding into the stomach.
Gastric antral vascular ectasia is a fairly rare cause of internal bleeding. It’s most commonly seen in older adults, especially women. It can be associated with long-term, chronic diseases, such as cirrhosis of the liver; autoimmune diseases, such as hardening and scarring of the skin (scleroderma); Raynaud’s disease; or kidney disease.
I won’t regale you with a long story about Mom’s struggles with GAVE; let’s just say Mom’s gradual decline in her health began with this condition, then was affected by other issues, including poor circulation to her brain – which resulted in her having to give up driving because she had dizzy spells that came and went – and a brush with skin cancer on her left arm.
So, the next – and last time that Mom went to a Star Wars movie on Opening Day was to see Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in May of 2005. In fact, every time that I watch Revenge of the Sith I remember that this was the last movie my mother ever saw in a theater, even though she lived another 10 years afterward.
Mom was, of course, no longer driving, but we were invited to the movies by our good friend – and former child actor – Ivan Kivitt and his partner, Danny Mason. They lived in our gated community – East Wind Lake Village – in one of the townhouses on NW 97th Place, and worked in the cruise ship industry, mostly as salesmen for the stuff passengers bought on cruises, although Danny also got gigs providing music and other forms of entertainment. They often hired me to look after their cat, Corky, and to make it look like there was someone living in their home whilst they were away. They were also fond of Mom and me, and they helped us out during the early weeks of Mom’s serious health issues in early 2010.
One thing that Ivan and Danny liked to do was to take friends to the movies when they were on dry land, so when Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005, they treated us to a matinee showing at the AMC 14 at the Mall of the Americas. (Or was it the Cobb 19 Theaters at the Dolphin Mall?)
Anyway, yeah. Wow. 20 years…Attack of the Clones…and Mom’s health decline. What a weird trip into the past, Dear Reader.
Well, I have a shower to take and fresh clothes to get into, so I’ll take my leave of you. I really don’t feel like getting out of my pajamas; it’s not like I lead a busy social life or anything, but I am a creature of habit, so off I go. Until we meet again, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny of things.