Wednesday, July 04, 2012

What Andy Griffith means to me

When I got the news, I didn't cry. I had been expecting it, to some degree.

But I felt a loss. A deep loss. Yet another sign that time is flying by like a house on the side of the road.

You know it by now. Andy Griffith is dead.

I was busy when I heard it so I didn't have time to mourn. But the memories crash-landed into my mind.

Happy ones, of childhood, when I pronounced his name "Andy Gippet," and Dad could tell the year the episode was filmed by the model years of the cars.

Great ones, of "Goober and the Art of Love" and "Andy and Helen Have Their Day" and Barney dressed up like a mannequin at Weaver's Department Store, and Goober and Howard dancing Helen's socks off in Howard's swank bachelor pad.

Poignant ones, of the time Andy taught Opie an important life's lesson when Ope killed the mama bird, or of the advice we all could use (me at the top of the list) from "Man in a Hurry."

I joined The Andy Griffith Show Re-Run Watcher's Club when I was about 12 or 13. I wanted to move to Mayberry.

I have seen all 249 episodes, some of them at least 50 times. Watching Griffith and Don Knotts' Barney play off one another never, ever, fails to bring a grin, as it will now and forever and ever, amen.

I hated some of the shows. The one in which Clara gets the church organ is so corny it makes me want to rob a bank. The one in which the kids strap the walkie-talkie to Goober's dog is simply stupid.

Those are exceptions, though.

"Andy and Helen Have Their Day" is my favorite. It is the one in which Mayberry's First Couple can't find time to spend together so Barney offers to do all their chores on a Saturday and sends them to the lake. The only problem is he keeps showing up, too! (When he comes stumbling through the brambles and yells at Goober for eating a sandwich, I cackle until I cry.)

Griffith always said the show was about love and he was right. As somebody put it, "When Barney fell, Andy was there to catch him."

Remember the one in which Barney organizes the cave rescue, thinking Andy and Helen are trapped, and they sneak back inside to avoid making Fife look like a fool?

I have thought for years that I should make one of those colored bracelets that says, "What Would Andy Taylor Do?" Imagine how much better this ol' world would be if we took a page from Sheriff Taylor's playbook.

I loved Andy on "Matlock" and in "No Time for Sergeants" and in "A Face in the Crowd," with Knoxville's own Patricia Neal, which in my mind is his most underrated performance. One Memorial Day, I went to see a film called "Waitress" just because Andy Griffith played the owner of the diner.

It is perfectly poignant that he died on the eve of our nation's birthday. He wasn't a saint and apparently he was a bit of a grump, but Andy Griffith was, is and will forever be a national treasure. He has enriched our lives and made us laugh and, at least in Mayberry, taught us how human beings should act and live.

I am not ashamed in the slightest to tell you I loved him, I'll miss him, and, yep, now I have gotten a little water in my eyes.

God bless you, Ange. Truth be told, you're not even gone. I'm throwing a DVD in the player right now.

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Blogger Shirley Merryman said...

Reruns make it possible for the Andy Griffith show to always be a positive influence on life. They will also be a reminder of what small town America was like. (and if it wasn't, what it should have been like). I love being able to recall situations from the show and still laugh out loud after all these years...and who knows, maybe Ron Howard will come up with a comparable series, if that is at all possible.

12:59 PM  

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