Friday, July 6, 2012

The Passing of a Legend

What’s small potatoes to some folks can be mighty important to others.  - Sheriff Andy Taylor

With Andy Griffith’s passing Tuesday morning America lost a hero, not one simply fashioned in the image of Hollywood but rather created in the hearts of people, especially those who share a small town kinship with the beloved actor. 

With No Time for Sergeants, Murder in Texas, Matlock and a whole slew of other memorable roles in between, Andy Griffith transported us through a bevy of emotion...laughter, heartbreak, even disgust (I’m thinking Murder in Coweta County here...the one role I did not like seeing him play).  But it was his Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show that cemented his place in television history and in the hearts of people everywhere, including the members of my family.

On the days immediately following his death my Facebook feed was inundated with tributes to this fine man and his work.  I found posts comparing contrasting him with the likes of the “Kartrashians” (not my word, so just chill if you happen to like them) and others in this new generation of reality television to be quite humorous and, sadly, quite true. 

If I may, allow me to bird walk here for just a moment on the subject of this relatively new type of entertainment.  In the most simple of terms...Gag. Me. Now.  I’m sorry, but if I want to watch a show about a woman trying to find a husband I’ll just watch Suzanne give Mary Jo advice in an old episode of Designing Women ("Mary Jo, men do not come up and talk to a woman who's wheelin' around a 25 pound bag of dog food and a big box of Kotex!") and if I’m ever in the mood to watch a group of people survive on a deserted island the show better begin with a catchy theme song about an old millionaire couple, a professor, a movie star, and a farm girl from Kansas going on a three hour boat ride.  

Now back to Andy (hmmm...does anyone even use his last name when speaking of him?).  Of all the memorials floating around out there I think the one I like best, the one that tugs at my heartstrings the most, is this...Mayberry is a state of mind.  Maybe it’s because I’m Southern and grew up in my own version of the fictional town that I am a such a fan of the show and the actors behind its success, the reason they feel like old family friends.  

In these days where uncertainty abounds, family schedules can be chaotic at best, crime seems rampant, respect and manners become a little more rare with each passing year, and even small towns like mine grow up who doesn’t on occasion, in their most inner core, yearn for something more simple, more safe. 

When the weight of living in 2012 grows tiresome I can, with the simple push of the button, exile myself to a more gentle time, where integrity was valued, time slowed to a crawl after work and on Sundays, and pleasure could be found in the most innocent of entertainment, like peeling an apple in one long piece.

With a society that far too often seems headed straight to hell in a handbasket, I’m glad there have been people like Andy and his Sheriff Taylor, and towns like Mayberry and the people in them, to slow the trip a bit.

Though I never had the chance to meet him, he’s brought much joy to my family and me over the years and the influence of his life and his show will forever be fondly remembered.  So, don’t be too surprised should you ever call our house and are greeted with John-Heath’s favorite way to answer the phone... “Sheriff’s office.” 


Anonymous said...

You did good Mom!

Tire Swing Mom said...

Well, thank you, Katy Ren. I'm glad you liked it. You know, you and your brother are the main reason I even take the time to write. :)