“Hey, Mom. Did you know that Andy Griffith died this morning?” I was just sitting down to my first web-surf of the day when my younger son asked me the question. I didn’t know. My first reaction was to check online to see if it was true. Surely there would be some mention of it and of course, it was everywhere.
I continued surfing and reading about Griffith’s life and passing and my son, who is 18, recalled how he used to watch “The Andy Griffith Show” at his grandparents’ (my parents’) house when he was much younger. As he was sharing this warmhearted memory, I was recalling a similar one. I too had watched reruns of the show at my grandparents’ house when I was a little girl in the seventies. Instantly, four generations were connected through this simple activity and this one man.
As my family can tell you, I can barely get through a day without remembering the time I spent with my grandparents in the summers. They lived in Humble, Texas and at the time, it was a lot like Mayberry; small, quiet, and completely wholesome. At least, that’s how it seemed to me when I was elementary-aged. Add to that the fact that my grandfather always reminded me of Andy Griffith. My parents would drive away from his house and Grandpa would sing songs to me and tell me of all the great plans he had for that summer’s visit. These plans never failed to include ice cream parties for all of my Humble friends, fishing trips, and enormous southern-style Sunday dinners with relatives crowding around a table that could barely hold the platters, much less the individual attendees and their plates. Those meals included almost any southern food you can think of, laughter that the neighbors must have heard, and a fair dose of scolding and life-lessons from Grandma and Grandpa. The values I learned at that boisterous kitchen table are the values I hold true to this day.
That’s really the meat of the Andy Griffith legacy, isn’t it? How many people can leave this world having had that type of an impact on multiple generations? Griffith’s life was about more than his enormous body of work (stage, television, movies, producing, and music), though that should be acknowledged. It was about connecting with the people and ideas that are truly important, fellowshipping one with another, and appreciating the generations before and after our own.
Let’s honor his legacy this week. Be creative. Gather your friends and family together and celebrate the simplicity of love. Pop some popcorn, bake some brownies, talk, listen, and laugh with each other. A lifetime only lasts for a short while. Follow Andy Griffith’s lead. Make yours mean something long after you’re gone.