Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Lessons from Sheriff Andy Taylor

Just after my daughter moved into her own place in 2004, I was feeling quite lonely one evening and sat down to watch an old Andy Griffith re-run. The Andy Griffith Show was one of my and my daughter’s favorite shows to watch together. We usually ended up laughing a lot before it was over. But, on occasion, we found ourselves crying a little, as the theme music faded away.

On this particular episode, Opie finds himself the caretaker of three baby birds. It happened after he accidentally kills the mother bird with his new slingshot. After his father expresses his displeasure in his son’s reckless behavior, Opie decides it is his duty to step in and attempt to care for the birds himself. 

He loves watching them grow. He feeds them, talks to them, and finds pleasure in their company.

One day, Andy tells him that the time will come when he will have to let the birds go. They weren’t meant to live in a cage, he tells his son. Opie isn’t too thrilled with this news. He can’t imagine having to let his babies fly away.

When the day arrives for seeing if the birds are ready, Opie becomes worried. “But what if I didn’t do all the right things?” he asks his father. “What if they can’t fly, Pa?” His father assures him the birds will be just fine.

As Opie clutches the first little bird in his hand, he says to it, “I sure hope I did all the right things. I sure hope you can fly away. Please fly away. Please?”

With that plea, he releases the bird and is ecstatic to see it fly off toward the tree in the front yard.

Soon, the other two birds follow and Opie is left holding an empty birdcage. “The cage sure looks awful empty, don’t it, Pa?” he says to his father.

His father says, “Yeah, son, it sure does.” And then, he looks up and, in Andy Taylor's inimitable way, says,  "But don’t the trees seem nice and full?” as the chatter of birds is heard in the background.

How ironic that I would watch such a bittersweet episode on such a bittersweet evening, which is why I got up and wrote about it in my journal, marked October 13, 2004.

This is just one example of why The Andy Griffith Show is still making families smile today.

Rest in peace, Andy Griffith.
Gone but not forgotten.


  1. Oh I loved that show too, and in fact I frequently watch it on netflix. Always such good, honest home spun wisdom and humor. I was thinking as you were talking about Opie raising his birds only to let them go when it was time how like us parents that is. If we do our job right, that is just what they were meant to do of course. I see why it was so timely for you. Enjoy your day!

  2. I miss Mayberry ...
    Sometimes the greatest lessons come from unlikely sources, don't they?

    I appreciate your sharing this nugget!

  3. The best show ever. Such good, wholesome humor--a thing of the past, I'm afraid. Sigh.

  4. What a lovely memory of one of my favorite shows and favorite people. Thanks for sharing!

  5. My whole family was so sad to hear of Andy Griffith's passing. My daughter said he was an American icon. And that he was. I'm so glad we have the series to watch over and over again.

  6. I hear ya, Dayle. It's like an old family friend has passed. Such warm memories growing up with Andy and Mayberry - cherished childhood moments. The birdman episode always makes me tear up at the end. Many great teachable moments with these episodes. So glad I have the whole collection - you're right - gone but not forgotten.

  7. Well, that sure was a timely episode for you to see! I haven't seen much of The Andy Griffith Show for a long time and think it a good idea to revisit some of them :)

  8. And Griffith was like everyone's uncle. He was a part of my childhood, up here, too.

  9. I came over to you from Cedar Hill Ranch...your post about Andy Griffith caught my eye. I don't remember seeing the bird episode, but just reading about it made me tear up. We lost something very special when we lost the past he represented, the homespun kindness and humor and wisdom...these things we lost some time ago. We just now lost the icon that represented those things so perfectly to us all. He was one of a kind.

  10. Thanks so much for this post.
    The age old question and one we fret about way too often . . .
    “But what if I didn’t do all the right things?” he asks his father. “What if they can’t fly, Pa?”

  11. Oh, Dayle! I loved that show when I was a young girl and still do today. I, too, was sad to hear of Andy's death, but thank goodness for TV Reruns and DVDs, etc. I wrote a post about this, too, on my blog. Please stop by if you have the chance. Thank you and have a wonderful rest of the week.

  12. nice post thanks for sharing this...looking for to read more of your posts...blessings out arnhem

  13. Just one of many of my favorite episodes. The simple truths that Sheriff Andy Taylor voiced both as a paternal figure and in general are just universal truths, IMO. They cut to the heart of the thing.

    I had forgotten that line from that show.
    I think that I understand it now in a way I never could before. When I see my little chirping chick so happy in her Washington tree, it makes my heart warm.

    Stinking hormones. First they wake me up in the middle of the night, and now I'm weepy.


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